Six organizations will be honored for their commitment to the Lansing region at the 14th annual Celebration of Regional Growth (CORG) Awards, which takes place Nov. 21 at the Michigan State University Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.
This year’s CORG honorees include General Motors (GM), Glanbia Nutritionals, Meijer Distribution Center, Michigan State University (MSU) Foundation, Peak Performance Physical Therapy and SET SEG. All six organizations are recognized for investments that are making a transformational impact on the community.
“CORG honorees have been the leaders in an ongoing transformation of the Lansing region,” said Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC). “Since the LRCC initiated its annual CORG Awards in 2006, more than 70 organizations have been recognized for their investments totaling a combined $2.5 billion.”
A Rich History in Lansing
Lansing and GM go back more than a century to the days when R.E. Olds located his fledgling car company here. The Lansing/GM marriage has remained strong, most notably at the turn of the 21st century when GM committed several billion dollars to the construction of the new Lansing Delta Township Plant and state-of-the-art modernization of the Lansing Grand River (LGR) facility.
GM has made several major new investments in both plants. Most recently, GM announced a $36 million investment in Lansing Delta Township for future crossover production. The plant, which employs 2,600 people, builds the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave. GM CEO Mary Barra touted the company’s commitment to Lansing at a local news conference where she announced the investment.
“We are proud of the hard work and commitment of the entire Lansing team,” said Barra. “The Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave are important products in our growing crossover portfolio. The investment will allow for future crossover production.”
LGR, home to 1,800 employees, produces the Chevrolet Camaro and the new Cadillac CT4 and CT5. In 2018, GM announced a $175 million investment for new vehicle production at LGR. Other recent investments include:
• $211 million for new tooling for future Cadillac products and a body shop expansion in 2016;
• $175 million for the new Camaro transferred from Canada to LGR, which included a new stamping plant in 2015.
Darci Marcum, director of the LGR plant, said the level of investment GM continues to make in Lansing is amazing.
“GM has a strong history in Lansing – more than 120 years, dating back to Oldsmobile,” said Marcum. “We are proud to be part of such strong heritage and continue to build on that legacy.”
Marcum also credits the Lansing workforce which GM has maintained a positive relationship for more than a century.
“We have third and fourth generation employees that make the culture feel more like a family business,” said Marcum. “At the end of the day, we are all GM employees with the same goals – to safely build high-quality vehicles for our customers, raise our families and give back to our community.”
Through the years, GM and the Lansing region have demonstrated a commitment to a strong relationship built to last.
“When I look at investments like this, this is doing what we said we were going to do of continuing to invest in the strength in the business because we want GM to be around not just for a few years, but several decades,” said Barra.
A State-of-the-Art Dairy Processing Facility
Glanbia Nutritionals opens its state-of-the-art dairy processing facility north of St. Johns next year. This ultra-modern, large-scale cheese and whey production operation is part of a joint venture with Dairy Farmers of America and Select Milk Producers, Inc.
“On completion, this will be one of the largest cheese plants in the country,” said John Dardis, senior vice president of U.S. corporate affairs for Glanbia. “Taking in 8 million pounds of milk per day, it will support our farmer suppliers and their communities and directly employ over 250 employees on-site, living in the community and making St. Johns home. For the Lansing area, investment of this scale brings significant innovation from our sustainably managed site to our product innovations.”
Proliant Dairy Ingredients will invest an additional $85 million, creating up to 38 jobs. The adjoining facility operated by Proliant will use byproducts from the milk processing facility to make whey permeate products for both human and animal consumption.
The $555 million project sits on 146 acres, a portion of which was land that Glanbia executives said met key selection criteria in terms of strategic location relative to milk supply, strong transport links, a positive business environment and labor availability.
“As we looked to build our No. 1 American style cheese position and simultaneously expand our position as the global leader in advanced technology whey supply to the nutritional sector, Michigan became the obvious choice,” said Dardis. “St. Johns became our No. 1 site preference because it puts us smack bang in cow country besides the lifeblood of our plant. It provides the required transportation infrastructure, a positive business environment and a labor market.”
As an incentive, the project was supported by an estimated $27.6 million in grants and tax abatements from the Michigan Strategic Fund, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan Department of Transportation.
“Our experience points to the importance of trusted partnerships,” said Dardis. “We have found Michigan exceptional. From the state level through the governor’s office, departments of agriculture and commerce and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to the local Lansing Economic Area Partnership and St. Johns community groups.”
MEIJER DISTRIBUTION CENTER
Largest in North America
As impressive as the sprawling Meijer Distribution Center on Creyts Road in Delta Township is from the outside, what takes place inside the state-of-the-art complex is even more impressive.
“The Meijer Distribution Center is a fully automated dry grocery distribution center and the largest of its kind in North America in terms of capabilities and size,” said Fred Walker, Meijer’s Lansing complex director.
Situated on 50 acres of land, the Meijer complex is 553,000 square feet in size. The facility is 84 feet tall and has 84 dock doors for receiving shipping freight. The distribution center can store 50,000 pallets worth of product at any given time, receives more than 1,000 truckloads of groceries a week, ship roughly 800 truckloads of product to 82 Meijer stores and moves an average of 240,000 cases of goods daily.
“In today’s world of supply chains, flexibility is key,” said Walker. “What this newest system allows us to do is become more nimble in the ways we serve each of our stores. Not only are we delivering the physical goods to the stores, but our automated solution also organizes and manufactures pallets of goods that are for specific aisles in our stores. This increases the speed at which we can move product from the backrooms of our stores to the sales shelf.”
Since 2010, Meijer has added more than 1 million square feet of distribution space. Some highlights include:
• 2010 – Fresh cut manufacturing facility
• 2012 – Automated aisle ready tote / small-item picking system
• 2013 – Automated storage and retrieval system freezer project
• 2014 – General merchandise facility expansion
• 2017 – Fully automated grocery warehouse go live
“All of these [expansions] have helped drive greater levels of flexibility and automation into our portfolio of facilities in Delta Township,” said Walker.
Of the 82 Meijer stores supported by this complex, nine are located in Eaton, Ingham and Clinton counties. In total, Meijer Distribution employs 1,600 people directly and another 800 indirectly through third parties and a private trucking fleet. Seventy percent of the products at the Delta Township facility is packaged and distributed in Michigan and 30% is distributed throughout the entire six-state Meijer footprint.
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY FOUNDATION’S VANCAMP INCUBATOR
Raising the Bar for Biotech Start-Ups
The University Corporate Research Park (UCRP), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the MSU Foundation, recently opened its newest property, the VanCamp Incubator + Research Labs (VanCamp Incubator). The VanCamp Incubator is a 22,000-square-foot multi-tenant facility, welcoming emerging companies and researcher groups in and beyond the Lansing region.
“This is a much-needed facility for our community,” said Gabriela Allum, project manager for the UCRP. “The growing number of startup companies coming out of MSU in areas like quantitative health, imaging and structural biology now have an off-campus incubator with full wet-lab facilities, instrumentation and services.”
While the building is not exclusive to lab-based companies, space is designed for companies born out of the physical and hard sciences.
The incubator is named in honor of Loretta VanCamp, who was an MSU microbiologist and researcher. Her work contributed to the development of the world’s leading anti-cancer drug, cisplatin.
“Loretta VanCamp was crucial to the research done at MSU, which resulted in the saving of countless lives,” said Jeff Smith, UCRP director. “This a milestone moment for MSU, the research community and the regional economy. We are excited for what’s ahead.”
Smith stated innovators coming into the VanCamp Incubator will have dramatic, positive impacts on the physical and biosciences for generations to come. The VanCamp Incubator features nine wet labs and 42 office spaces, as well as shared equipment rooms, conference rooms and common areas. Companies coming into the VanCamp Incubator can use the resources and services to grow their businesses until they can move on to their operations within the community.
“Wet lab companies usually take a little longer to incubate, due in part to having more procedural or health and safety hurdles to contend. It typically takes them three to five years before they are ready to be in a traditional office setting,” said Allum.
The incubator is now open to companies from the region as well as those coming directly out of the MSU ecosystem.
PEAK PERFORMANCE PHYSICAL THERAPY
A Passion for Patient Success
Jill Marlan began and continues to run Peak Performance Physical Therapy as a premiere orthopedic rehabilitation facility specializing in orthopedic manual physical therapy, which is the only certified therapy by the American Medical Association. Peak Performance Physical Therapy’s passion for delivering oneon-one, manual care while collaborating with other healthcare professionals is leading the way with patient success.
Marlan and the Peak Performance team have been successful in their approach – they were recently able to open a third location in Dewitt to go along with two other clinical locations in Lansing and Okemos. Peak Performance also has athletic training locations at Lansing Community College and Great Lakes Christian College.
Marlan said a big differentiator for Peak Performance comes from what she calls “the case management approach.” This approach is focused on collaboration, quality and education to ensure the needs of their patients are met. Each case is thoroughly evaluated, and a customized approach is taken with every individual.
“When the patient walks through the door, they’ve hired us to work for them every day to make sure medical and rehabilitation needs are met and that they are getting back to doing the activities that are so important to them,” said Marlan.
As her company has grown, Marlan has been widely recognized for her success. A previous ATHENA PowerLink recipient and Greater Lansing Business Monthly Entrepreneur of the Year, she was selected out of thousands of applicants in the United States and Canada to receive the Ernst and Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women Award, which is considered one of the highest honors in the world for new and growing businesses.
The growth of the company has been exciting for the Peak Performance team. Marlan intends to expand its footprint into more communities in the coming years.
“We are shooting for 10 clinics over the next eight years,” said Marlan. “We have a plan laid out. The locations have been strategically chosen in areas where we feel the care and compassion are lacking, and we can come into communities and make a big impact.”
An Industry Leader in School Insurance
On Oct. 28, East Lansing gained SET SEG as a new business resident. School Employers Trust (SET) and School Employers Group (SEG) formed the partnership SET SEG in 1971, which serves as a nonprofit company dedicated to delivering employee benefits as well as workers’ compensation and property/casualty services for Michigan Public Schools. The new facility, located at 1520 Earl Ave. in East Lansing, will allow a more expansive and accessible location for staff, board members and member school districts.
SET SEG is a proud recipient of the CORG Award for its recently completed 32,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in East Lansing.
“This facility will allow our employees to operate in a more modern, technologyrich, open environment, which is conducive to today’s business,” said John Hagel, CEO of SET SEG. “For our educational partners, the building will allow SET SEG to continue to deliver best-in-class customer service.”
SET is a nonprofit company that was created after a monumental shift in school funding happened in 1965. SET, which began in 1971, served as an employee benefits association focused on offering comprehensive and affordable employee benefit solutions to Michigan public schools and their employees. Two years later, its partner organization SEG was formed to administer compensation and fringe benefits for SET. As schools were faced with more challenges related to insurance, SEG evolved and grew into a company that provides workers’ compensation and property/casualty risk management services for Michigan public schools.
Today, SET SEG continues to expand and find innovative ways to meet the specialized needs of its members. Not only has SET SEG established a reputation as an industry leader in the school insurance market, but it also has been recognized as one of the best places to work in insurance two years running. In a national survey and recognition program hosted by Business Insurance and Best Companies Group, SET SEG ranked No. 15 in the nation among small employers.
“We put Michigan public schools first,” said Hagel. “We operate as a team, and we strive to simplify the complex. We want to deliver risk management solutions as well as peace of mind for our members. With this new facility, we feel confident that we will continue to successfully meet those goals.”