Michigan approves 9 projects expected to add 3,900 jobs, bring $1 billion in investments

Michigan on Tuesday approved state incentives for nine economic development projects expected to bring about 3,900 jobs, nearly half from General Motors consolidating engineering jobs from outside the state at a site in Michigan.

Most of the new jobs and estimated $1 billion in private investment would come in the auto industry — ranging from brake supplier Brembo's plan to build a foundry near its Homer facilities in southern Michigan to Challenge Mfg.'s planned new plant in the Lansing area. Other projects include solar company Suniva creating a plant in Saginaw Township, YanFeng USA Automotive Trim Systems expanding its factory in Macomb County, and H.A. Automotive Systems buying a building in Troy to establish a headquarters, manufacturing and research and development facility.

Gov. Rick Snyder said four of the projects approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund stem from trade trips he took to China, Canada and Italy — where parent companies are based — and will lead to 1,300 additional jobs. Some companies chose Michigan over competing states in the South, he said.

"It was very broad-based and shows the strength of our economic comeback," Snyder said of the business expansions in a phone interview with The Associated Press. Another significant business-expansion project will be announced Wednesday, he said.

In all, the state OK'd more than $11 million in grants for the companies — in addition to roughly $6 million in financing to help Middleville Tool & Die buy new equipment and expand south of Grand Rapids.

The board also amended older tax credits to assist GM's plan to spend $800 million upgrading Michigan facilities and consolidate out-of-state engineering functions at an unspecified Michigan site. GM declined to discuss details, though a memorandum written by Michigan Economic Development Corp. officials recommended expanding the maximum number of retained employees qualifying for a tax credit from 5,000 to 6,750 at the GM Technical Center in Warren.

Brembo said once its foundry is completed in 2017, it could produce up to 80,000 tons of brake disc castings a year. Roughly 250 jobs will be created at Brembo's 300,000-square-foot facility in Albion Township and at its headquarters in Plymouth Township east of Ann Arbor, the company said.

Also Tuesday, the economic development board made available $6 million in Community Development Block Grants to help nine counties in northern Michigan that sustained heavy damage to water and sewer mains, roads and other infrastructure in the frigid winter.

Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Delta, Emmet, Gogebic, Luce, Mackinac and Marquette counties are eligible. The Snyder administration said past economic development projects approved by the state face "some jeopardy" if basic infrastructure isn't repaired quickly.