MEDC brings West Michigan projects closer to ‘shovel ready’

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The MEDC awarded the Kent County Department of Public Works a $75,000 grant for site improvements at 14th Street in Allegan County's Dorr Township for development of a new sustainable business park. Courtesy Kent County DPW

A pair of industrial sites in West Michigan — including the future Kent County Department of Public Works sustainable business park — have been awarded a total of $150,000 in site readiness grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) said Wednesday that it issued $728,500 in site readiness grants to 10 industrial sites across Michigan through the competitive Michigan Build Ready Sites program, including sites in Allegan and Muskegon counties.

The targeted grants are aimed at boosting Michigan’s inventory of available properties ready to compete for business attraction projects.

“These site-ready projects underscore Michigan’s continued commitment to working with our local partners and communities to foster business growth and developing our inventory of shovel-ready sites across the state,” said Josh Hundt, MEDC chief business development officer and executive vice president. “With the innovative projects our partners have brought forth, we are positioning the state to grow a more resilient economy that will have a meaningful impact on our business attraction efforts and, ultimately, bring good jobs for Michiganders.”

The Michigan Build Ready Sites program is intended to assist with the development or enhancement of industrial sites to help them get closer to having vetted site standards and make them more competitive during the site selection process. Local and regional economic development or community partners submitted applications that demonstrated a plan and pathway to a vetted site. Grant funds under the program could be used for activities, including site development studies or site material development, site implementation or land assembly activities, and more.

Grants were awarded to the following West Michigan projects:

  • Kent County Department of Public Works (DPW), site improvements at 14th Street in Allegan County’s Dorr Township for development of a new sustainable business park, grant amount $75,000, local match $75,000
  • Muskegon Area First, purchase and improvement of property at 5642 Grand Haven Road in Muskegon County’s Norton Shores for future development, grant amount $75,000, local match $70,750

Attracting private company partner investment and job creation to the Dorr Township site is not possible without adequate utility and roadway infrastructure, the MEDC said. The $75,000 site readiness grant will assist with those improvements and the creation of a 250-acre sustainable business park led by the Kent County DPW that will be on the Allegan County-Kent County line in Dorr Township and Byron Center. The sustainable business park is an alternative to more landfilling and a reimagining of trash. The MEDC said it will be a model for the state of Michigan and other local units of government that are looking for alternatives to the landfilling of solid waste. It is expected the project will attract hundreds of millions of dollars in private sector investment and job creation businesses. The DPW has already drawn nine requests for proposals from companies around the world, according to an Oct. 16 Business Journal report.

“(The sustainable business park exemplifies) the type of project the Build Ready program is intended for — collaborative, thoughtful plans that identify a pathway to the redevelopment of sites, making them ready to compete for site selection projects and generate long-term prosperity for their communities,” Hundt said.

Mark Meyers, Norton Shores city administrator, thanked the MEDC for the Build Ready Sites grant.

“We would like to thank Muskegon Area First, our countywide economic development corporation, for submitting the grant, which will allow us to add much-needed new industrial property to the city’s inventory,” Meyers said. “In the past few years, we have had several new companies locate in Norton Shores, and the existing inventory of industrial space has been greatly depleted. Vacant industrial land is one of the most important needs in our city, as existing manufacturers continue to expand and manufacturers out of the area explore opportunities to locate in the city.”

More information on each of the 10 projects that were funded by the MEDC’s Build Ready Site grant program is available online.

Five more communities are under consideration for an additional $300,000 in community development block grant funds for shovel-ready projects.

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