As a former senior vice president for St. John Providence Health System and now as a member of Thomas Group Consulting, Inc., I have worked closely with Macomb County leaders as my stakeholders have invested millions in existing and new facilities throughout Macomb County. I also graduated from Leadership Macomb and was an active participant in Focus Macomb. Both of these activities brought me closer to the great people who help make relocating and expanding a business in Macomb County as seamless as possible. More people are making Macomb County their home than any other county in the region, a leader in population growth and new housing permits. A surge in residents creates a greater need for new jobs to be created.
Working under the direction of County Executive Mark A. Hackel, the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development offers a spectrum of business development services, ranging from workshops and events for individuals interested in starting their own business to tailored assistance for Fortune 500 companies. When it comes to allocating scarce resources, the county is targeting its efforts on serving those employers that have already invested in Macomb County.
“We know that nearly 85% of all new jobs in Macomb County are created by existing companies,” said Stephen Cassin, executive director for the Department of Planning and Economic Development. “Our Home in Macomb Business Retention Program works with existing companies to help them achieve their specific goals for growth.”
The pool of potential clients is huge. Overall, there are nearly 18,000 businesses in Macomb County. An estimated 20 percent of these are certified women- or minority-owned businesses.
“The retention program is for all businesses in Macomb County with a goal to invest and grow,” said Melissa Roy, assistant county executive. “The best thing for an interested company to do is to get in touch so that our business development specialists can help ascertain what is needed and connect company officials to the appropriate resources.”
During 2012, 47 companies were served by the program. Combined, they invested more than $164 million in new facilities and equipment. As a result, participating companies were able to create 1,260 new jobs while retaining 3,450 existing ones.
Supreme Gear Company of Fraser is one of its successes. Privately owned, this certified minority business enterprise is 60 years old and provides machined solutions for the aerospace, defense and commercial industries. Its specialty is the production of highly critical aircraft engine and missile gears. During 2012, Supreme Gear invested more than $4.4 million in new machinery and is on target for creating 69 new jobs.
AGS Automotive, a Canadian-based supplier that specializes in engineering, metal stamping, plating, painting and bumper system design and assembly, expanded its square footage in Sterling Heights. They expanded their presence in Macomb County by acquiring and renovating a 350,000 square foot facility. The company was able to access local and state incentives, along with employee recruitment and training services and is currently seeking to fill more than 50 positions.
Tax incentives available through Michigan’s Tool & Die Recovery Zone enabled Baker Aerospace of Macomb Township to invest more than $10 million in an expansion that will create up to 170 jobs.
Fori Automation is a global designer and supplier of the machinery that makes advanced manufacturing possible. Several years ago, it turned its attention to expanding its customer base to include defense, aerospace, agriculture and recreational vehicles. They were able to access employee recruitment, employee training, tax incentive, expedited permitting and utility services. Success in tapping these resources resulted in an expansion of its world headquarters in Shelby Township which will ultimately create 50 new jobs.
The Home in Macomb Business Retention Program is available for all businesses in Macomb County. Its current focused on second-stage companies, defined as those with nine or more employees, revenues in excess of $1 million and a need to grow. Working with a network of regional economic development partners, the department will meet with companies to determine needs and develop a plan for achieving success. Through its partnerships, the department can connect business clients with:
Access to incentives and financing
Assistance with workforce recruitment and training
Market research
Site selection
Business counseling.
The department also offers a range of events designed to educate the business community and create dialogue. Topics range from workforce development issues to up-to-the-minute updates on the Affordable Care Act. The department’s website maintains a comprehensive calendar of events offered by the department and its regional partners.
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