State aid OK’d for Industry 4.0, ‘build ready’ sites, manufacturing expansion, Flint settlement

LANSING—Regional grants for Industry 4.0 readiness, a business expansion and more got approval from the Michigan Strategic Fund board this week.

The MSF OK’d nearly $2 million in grants for 10 nonprofit organizations around the state to provide regional Industry 4.0 programming and services to increase manufacturers’ readiness to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies. The funding is part of an MEDC-led effort to ensure that 50 percent of Michigan manufacturers—or 6,200 businesses—are prepared to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies at some level by 2025.

MEDC issued a Request for Proposals on December 8, 2020, soliciting proposals from Michigan-based nonprofits and Michigan-based governmental entities currently engaged in economic development activities to develop and implement regional activities that encourage innovation and increase manufacturers’ awareness and readiness to adopt and implement Industry 4.0 technologies.

Grants were awarded to the following organizations:

Location Grantee Award Amount
Region 10 American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), which does business as LIFT, Detroit $335,372
Region 10 Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University, Southfield $197,985
Region 6 Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County $138,425
Region 5 Great Lakes Bay Manufacturers Association, Saginaw $106,175
Region 4 Lakeshore Advantage, Zeeland $92,787
Region 9 Lean Rocket Lab, Jackson $244,671
Region 10 Macomb County Planning and Economic Development $115,500
Regions 1 & 3 Manufacturing Growth Alliance (Regions 1 and 3) (Region 1 is the Upper Peninsula; Region 3 is comprised of Cheboygan, Presque Isle, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Crawford, Oscoda, Alcona, Roscommon, Ogemaw, and Iosco counties) $199,744
Region 8 Manufacturing Growth Alliance (Region 8, comprised of  Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph, Branch, Van Bureu, Kalamazoo, and Calhoun counties) $271,851
Region 2 Networks Northwest, Traverse City $275,000
  TOTAL $1,977,511

Grants will be used for a variety of efforts to further Industry 4.0 readiness within each specific region, including technology demonstrations and pilots, outreach and education efforts, readiness assessments and awareness-building activities. The projects range in scope from establishing regional consortia and roundtables to supporting pilot projects and planning, and physical infrastructure and equipment to provide sandbox opportunities.

Industry 4.0 is defined as the convergence of digital and physical technologies, including artificial intelligence, 3D printing, robotics, augmented and virtual reality, the cloud, and cybersecurity. Approximately 42 percent of Michigan’s current labor force could be negatively impacted by automation, and with MEDC’s strategic focus on retaining companies and fostering high-wage skills growth in target industries such as Advanced Manufacturing, there is a strong need for a multipronged effort to ensure Michigan’s small to medium-sized manufacturers adopt Industry 4.0 technologies.

These grants build on the overall MEDC Industry 4.0 initiative, which includes efforts to drive awareness statewide on the importance of Industry 4.0 readiness and technical support to help small- to medium-sized manufacturers adopt Industry 4.0 technologies through a partnership with Automation Alley and the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. Learn more at www.michiganbusiness.org/industry4-0.

Michigan Build Ready Sites Program to continue

The Michigan Strategic Fund also approved $800,000 in funding to continue the Michigan Build Ready Sites Program in 2021. The program is designed to assist communities in their efforts to attract and retain businesses by increasing the inventory of project-ready industrial sites. The Michigan Build Ready Sites program will provide financial or technical support through applications from communities, nonprofits or local economic development organizations to fund activities that will increase Michigan’s inventory of development-ready industrial sites. Activities could include site development studies or site material development, site implementation or land assembly activities, and more.

Originally created in 2019, the Michigan Build Ready Site Program was intended to increase the inventory of industrial sites ready for development by assisting communities or other public entities with the development or enhancement of their industrial sites and make them ready to compete for site selection projects. To date, 59 grants totaling $4.5 million have been awarded for site readiness projects around the state, with 24 projects completed to date.

The Michigan Build Ready Site Program supports MEDC’s strategic focus of continuing to hone Michigan’s competitive advantage and be prepared to attract companies in key focus industries to locate and grow in Michigan. As MEDC courts companies to grow or locate in Michigan, there is a need for the development and/or enhancement of industrial sites to make them build-ready and competitive for site selection projects.

The need for more industrial site readiness has become even more acute as more U.S. companies are reshoring their business operations, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on the Michigan Build Ready Sites program and the selection process, visit www.michiganbusiness.org/featured-sites/build-ready-sites.

Mayville Engineering brings new plant, advanced manufacturing jobs to SE Michigan

Mayville Engineering Co., Inc., established in 1945 in Mayville, Wis., is a publicly traded manufacturer that provides prototyping and tooling, production fabrication, coating, assembly, and aftermarket services. The company serves a wide range of industries, including heavy- and medium-duty commercial vehicles, construction, powersports, agriculture, military and others. MEC employs 2,000 people across 20 facilities in eight states, including four facilities in Michigan that employ almost 400 people.

The company expects to establish a flagship manufacturing facility in Southeast Michigan that will add capacity while also showcasing the company’s ability to deliver high-value and high-profile products. The project is expected to generate a total business investment of $51.5 million and create 365 jobs within two years as well as add 22 new jobs at the company’s existing facility in Byron Center, resulting in a $2.5 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

“Opening this state-of-the-art manufacturing facility later this year is an integral part of our long-term plans,” said MEC Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Kamphuis. “We are pleased to be expanding our presence in Michigan, and selected Southeast Michigan due to the availability of a highly-skilled manufacturing workforce in the area. We are grateful for the support of the State of Michigan and look forward to investing in the facility.”

For information on careers with MEC, visit https://www.mecinc.com/our-company/careers.

Flint water settlement bonds approved

The Michigan Strategic Fund also approved private activity bond financing as part of the Flint water settlement. 

The settlement was agreed to last year by the State parties and the plaintiffs’ legal counsel following more than 18 months of negotiations. It received preliminary approval by the court earlier this year.

Through that negotiated settlement agreement, and subsequent bipartisan legislation, the MSF was identified to facilitate the transaction and issue the bonds that will finance the settlement over a 30-year period. The newly-created Flint Water Advocacy Fund will borrow the settlement funds through the MSF and transfer the funds to the settlement administrator, per the agreement.

The State of Michigan will be responsible for the settlement payments of approximately $35 million a year for up to 30 years-an obligation that will be included as part of the annual appropriations process. As is the case with all bond inducements or authorizations, there is no financial risk or financial exposure to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. or MSF.

Attorney General Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in August announced a $600 million preliminary agreement to settle the lawsuits filed against the state after the City of Flint switched its public water supply to the Flint River in 2014.

Defendants joining the settlement since August include the City of Flint, which is providing $20 million through its insurer, and McLaren Regional Medical Center and Rowe Professional Services Co., which are contributing $20 million and $1.25 million, respectively.

More information on the settlement can be found online.

Click here to view a copy of Judge Levy’s ruling of preliminary approval.

 

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