CASCADE — In choosing to invest $51.8 million to expand and develop new facilities over the next five years in Kent County, Lacks Enterprises Inc. has committed to growing at home.
The Cascade-based automotive supplier plans to build three new facilities and expand two others in the area by 2009, creating 242 new jobs directly and 392 indirectly.
With so much attention focused lately on the loss of manufacturing jobs — particularly in the office furniture industry — and with the closing of the Bosch factory in Kentwood that put more than 1,200 people out of work, last week’s announcement that Lacks Enterprises had chosen to expand locally rather than build in Indiana or South Carolina came as highly welcome news.
“Over the last couple of years, there’s been so much doom and gloom in this area, the public needs to see the brighter side of things, and this was an opportunity to show the brighter side of things and a bright future,” Lacks Enterprises Executive Director Roger Andrzejewski said.
The expansion plans reflect the strong growth of the company, which anticipates growing sales to $500 million by 2008 or 2009. Lacks Enterprises finished its last fiscal year with sales of $310 million.
In the last decade, Lacks Enterprises has grown sales annually by an average of 10 percent and of late has been operating at about 95 percent capacity, Andrzejewski said.
In deciding to grow locally, Lacks Enterprises is taking advantage of a generous incentive package offered by the state to retain jobs and generate new business investments.
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is providing Lacks Enterprises a $2.5 million Single Business Tax credit to expand in the state, and the city of Kentwood is expected to approve a $4.3 million abatement on real and personal property taxes.
“World-class companies like Lacks are the foundation of our manufacturing industry,” MEDC President and Chief Executive Officer Don Jakeway said. “It is in the state’s interest, and that of our work force, to keep them in Michigan.”
The state incentive package helped to sway Lacks Enterprises to expand in the Grand Rapids area, rather than at facilities the company operates in South Carolina and Indiana.
The tax breaks will “enhance our competitiveness in the global market, allow us to grow the business and create hundreds of new jobs in the state,” Andrzejewski said.
After looking at its options and at economic packages offered by each state, the company chose Michigan, he said.
“The state was willing to make an investment in our company so we could make an investment in the community,” Andrzejewski said. “The state was able to put together a package that allowed us to continue growing and expanding here and create jobs where we’ve grown and prospered since 1961.”
Founded 43 years ago, the family-owned Lacks Enterprises produces plastic, stainless steel and die-based automotive components such as wheel covers and vehicles grilles for automakers worldwide. The company employs some 1,744 people in Michigan.
The first project, a new $17.5 million plating plant at the company’s Barden Drive campus in Kentwood that will create 182 new jobs, will begin in August and is targeted for completion by next June.
Subsequent projects will create additional molding, plating, assembly and distribution capacity for Lacks Enterprises.