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Growth is abundant

Greater Lansing has captured developers’ interests


When it comes to economic development, Greater Lansing is hitting on all cylinders, according to Bob Trezise, President & CEO of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP). Companies are investing millions of dollars in expanding their facilities and adding employees.

“When we say Lansing is one of the hottest markets in the Midwest, it’s not just rhetoric,” he said. “The research is showing it.”

Economic development involves helping new or existing private companies create jobs. It often means competing with other areas to win projects. And the region’s mass collaboration enables state and local entities to offer attraction plans involving help with funding, tax incentives, obtaining permits and more.

“We win projects by using incentives that help convince a Board of Directors or group of shareholders why this choice—Lansing, Michigan—is better,” Trezise said. “We unite within the confines of economic development because no matter our role, party or politics, we are just trying to help people by winning specific projects. Everyone can agree with that.”

The results of the region’s collaborative efforts are mounting.

Committed to Lansing. Niowave is making a significant investment in its Lansing facility to install a production route for medical radioisotopes with a superconducting electron accelerator. Niowave is creating a new industry in the United States.

“This is the first of its kind in that particular pharmaceutical niche in the United States,” Trezise said.

Because of its extraordinary growth, Jackson National Life Insurance Company is doubling the size of its national headquarters in Lansing and adding more than 1,000 jobs. The $112 million investment shows the company’s commitment to the area.

Insurance and financial services are Greater Lansing’s two leading industries, with nearly seven percent of the workforce reporting to a job in that sector. The experience found in the employee base is one of the draws for expansion for Jackson and Auto-Owners Insurance.

In 2009, Auto-Owners invested $105.3 million to build a new headquarters in Delta Township, creating hundreds of new jobs.

Import of GM. A long-time member of Greater Lansing’s manufacturing industry, General Motors has announced more than $280 million in facility investments since 2013. With the Grand River Assembly facility in Lansing producing the next-generation Camaro, GM is investing $44.5 million in a new logistics optimization center. The investment is creating a 400,000-square-foot building adjacent to the plant to sequence and assemble parts to make manufacturing more flexible at the site. A new, $174 million stamping facility at Grand River Assembly will produce stamping components for Cadillacs and Camaros.

The $63 million expansion of the Lansing Delta Township facility is adding 263,000 square feet to the existing facility.

“We have a long history here with a high quality workforce and great community support,” said Mike Trevorrow, Lansing Regional Plant Manager. “Being a manufacturing town, we have seen third and fourth generation employees join the GM family which puts a lot of pride into our products and facilities.”

Other manufacturing investments include:

  • Norplas Industries, a manufacturing division of Magna Exteriors and Interiors, recently opened its $75 million, 400,000-square-foot facility in Delta Township. The plant is expected to create 400 jobs.
  • L & W Engineering is adding 100 jobs through its $14 million project in Grand Ledge.

When it comes to international companies, a once small, family-owned company has gone global and expanded. Two Men and a Truck has settled into 25,000 square feet of office space that was modernized by a redesign of the space and updating technology throughout.

“Our 2018 vision calls for 10,000 team members, 5,000 trucks and over 400 locations worldwide,” said Randy Shacka, President. “We need to be ready.”

The company’s $8 million expansion has created 50 jobs in Lansing, with an additional 50 coming in the next 12 to 24 months.

Space to live and play. Greater Lansing is also experiencing a surge in loft living. A variety of projects are constructing downtown Lansing loft apartments. They’re sold as quickly as they’re finished.

“Downtown is becoming a neighborhood,” City of Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said. “People get up and go out for breakfast. They walk their dogs. We’re alive after 5 p.m. In a way, it’s back to the future. People are moving back into the cities.”

One of the region’s unique investments—called The Outfield—is being constructed inside the Cooley Law School Stadium where the Lansing Lugnuts play 70 games throughout the spring and summer.

The project is the result of a collaborative effort between the Lugnuts, City of Lansing, LEAP, Lansing Entertainment & Public Facilities Authority and the Gillespie Group. While $11 million is being spent to update the stadium, an additional $11 million is being invested to construct 80 residential units and a year-round restaurant directly over the existing outfield wall. It will offer residents front row seats to the games.

“It’s the only project like it in America,” Trezise said. “It will be one of the premier ballparks in the country.”

The proposed Red Cedar Renaissance is a high-end village being built on Michigan Avenue, near Michigan State University. The $200 million project along the Red Cedar River is transforming the former Red Cedar Golf Course into a global village. It will include dining, retail, market rate apartments, underground parking, pedestrian connections to Michigan State University and a 20-acre park, including a river walk. Private investment is expected to total about $200 million.

An increasing number of retail stores are opening in Greater Lansing, including Apple, H&M and Whole Foods. The newly renovated $35 million Knapp’s Centre modernized the former J.W. Knapp’s department store, creating space for high-tech companies and a fashion incubator, The Runway, that is one-of-a-kind in Michigan.

“Our market is hot,” Trezise said, noting development is occurring throughout the tri-county area. “We’re a major national story at this point.”     

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