Gerber expansion, community revitalization projects get state aid

LANSING—The Michigan Strategic Fund board approved a range of business growth and community revitalization projects, as well expanded initiatives and support for communities that will continue to drive Michigan’s economic recovery, officials of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced.

Gerber Products Co., a subsidiary of Nestle USA Inc., received approval for an MSF Designated Renaissance Zone to support the consolidation of a line of purees and relocate a freeze-dry yogurt line now located on the West Coast to its plant in Fremont. The project will add approximately 50 new jobs and generate a total private investment of $36 million over the next two years. The city of Fremont will also receive a Payment In Lieu of Taxes from the company totaling $700,000 that will cover 50 percent of the city taxes abated under the Renaissance Zone.

Gerber, based in Arlington, Va., has two United States plants, in Fremont, where it was founded in 1927, and Fort Smith, Ark. For information on careers with Gerber, visit

MSF also approved a Brownfield Act 381 Work Plan for 400 Island Avenue LLC to demolish two buildings, remediate contaminated land and construct a new building at the site of the former Crown Vantage paper mill in the city of Parchment. The completed building will be targeted to warehousing and light manufacturing uses. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $12 million and create 15 full-time equivalent jobs and will redevelop an underutilized and unattractive site into much-needed industrial space for the Kalamazoo market. The Parchment Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Brownfield Act 381 Work Plan approval includes state tax capture of $1,050,133 that will assist with the remediation of brownfield conditions at the site. The city of Parchment is supporting the project through the local portion of the work plan with an estimated value of $1.5 million.

The MSF board also approved the acceptance of an anticipated funding award from the U.S. Small Business Administration State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), as well as matching funds to support the Michigan STEP grant initiative (MI-STEP). The approval included allowing the MSF fund manager to accept the SBA award on behalf of MI-STEP and approve the required match funds. Additional details will be announced once the award is officially approved by the SBA.

MI-STEP is designed to spur job creation by empowering Michigan small- and medium-sized enterprises by linking them to resources and opportunities to expand exports to new international markets. MI-STEP provides financial assistance awards to SMEs, reimbursing them for expenses for eligible export-related activities.

MSF also approved an expansion of eligible activities allowed under the program, including e-commerce and compliance testing, as well as increased website expenses. Limited program changes were originally approved by MSF in May based on directives from SBA as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The MSF board also approved community revitalization projects around the state, including a Brownfield Act 381 Work Plan that includes $2,553,172 in state tax capture to support the $64.6 million plan of Exchange Detroit LLC to develop a surface parking lot in Detroit’s Greektown neighborhood into a 16-story building with retail and office space on the first floor, and 12 condominiums and 153 rental units on the upper floors. Some 20 percent of the rental units will be priced to meet affordable housing requirements. The city of Detroit is supporting the project through the local portion of the work plan with an estimated value of $188,444 and approval of a 15-year Neighborhood Enterprise Zone abatement valued at $12.5 million.

Also, the city of Eaton Rapids was awarded $2,905,898 in Community Development Block Grant funds for the Island City Parks Improvement project in downtown Eaton Rapids. The project includes the renovation of the existing park infrastructure, constructing new walkways to enhance connectivity and incorporating placemaking features throughout the park system. A new trail will complete a loop to connect Island Park to Mill Pointe Park to the canoe launch and the proposed new park bridge. The stairs to access the park bridge would be eliminated and replaced with an ADA ramp to provide universal park access. New park benches and trail lights will be installed in various locations; along with replacing outdated playground equipment with new modern equipment.  The project also includes structural work to the flood protection walls. The city of Eaton Rapids is contributing $1.2 million toward the project.

The city of Ludington has received $2,123,190 in CDBG funds for public facility improvements needed for the James Street Plaza/Legacy Park project in downtown Ludington. The project will transform a temporary town square on a closed one-way street into a four-season active community and recreational space. The project will include a permanent pavilion, year-round bathroom structure, fireplace and a rain garden. It will also acknowledge the city’s maritime and lumbering heritage and honor the three Native American tribes that first settled the area. The city plans to contribute $389,710 toward the project.

The village of Paw Paw has been awarded $1,968,130 in CDBG funds for public improvements for the Michigan Avenue Placemaking and Streetscape project in downtown Paw Paw. The project includes the transformation of public space including eliminating dangerous steps currently dividing sidewalks, adding bump-outs and public seating, improving street lighting and improving water and sewer infrastructure. In addition, the project will add improved landscaping, green space and rain gardens. The village and its Downtown Development Authority are contributing $804,423 toward the project, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded the project an $89,025 grant. The total project cost is expected to be $3,598,034.

In addition, the Michigan Strategic Fund today awarded a total of $10.6 million in Community Development Block Grant Infrastructure and Resiliency funds to eight communities around Michigan for infrastructure improvements, as follows:

Applicant/Communities Project Description CDBG Award Admin Cost Award Total Local Match
Village of Baraga Lagoon and wastewater system upgrades. $1,500,000 $22,425 $500,000
City of Bronson Sanitary and storm sewer and watermain replacement. $1,322,850 $27,240 $440,950
City of Fennville Water main replacement. $1,050,000 $17,000 $500,000
Village of Mackinaw City Water storage tank and sanitary pump station replacement. $1,350,000 $17,200 $450,000
City of Manistique  Sewer interceptor and pipe replacement. $740,480 $13,560 $91,520
Village of Mayville Sanitary and storm sewer and watermain replacement. $1,700,000 $27,350 $432,000
Village of Nashville Water pump, sanitary sewer pipe lining and storm sewer improvements. $1,095,360 20,400 $208,640
City of Stanton Sanitary and storm sewer and watermain replacement. $1,689,574 $19,875 $563,191
    $10,448,264 $165,050 $3,186,301

The MSF board also approved $19.8 million in Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to all 77 Michigan non-entitlement counties through the CDBG program. These CDBG CARES fund allocations are designated for COVID-19 related unbudgeted county expenditures used to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19. Examples of eligible reimbursable expenditures include: Purchase of health care equipment, public services such as COVID testing sites, and hazard pay for essential workers. These counties did not receive CDBG CARES funding directly from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. To see the entire list of counties that received funding, visit here.

To learn more about MEDC’s COVID-19 response programs and the impact they are having on economic recovery efforts, visit Other resources for businesses across Michigan struggling with economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 virus can be found online at

More about the MEDC and its activities at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.