by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners held public hearings prior to their Wednesday, Nov. 6 Committee of the Whole meeting to discuss and receive public comments on authorizing applications for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for two Vernon Township sites.
The first CDBG would be in the amount of $42,600 for site planning in connection with future development on a 40-acre parcel of land at 7505 M-71 in Vernon Township, the home of Great Lakes Fusion. The second CDBG would be in the amount of $100,000 for site planning in connection with future development on a 2,000-acre parcel of land located mostly northwest of the New Lothrop Road/Lansing Road intersection in Vernon Township and the city of Durand, the proposed site for Project Tim.
Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership President/CEO Justin Horvath explained the CDBG process to the commissioners and those in attendance on Wednesday.
“The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has created a program called Site Readiness to try to support the development of land sites in Michigan,” Horvath began. “They realize that we do not have enough available properties to be able to pitch to business prospects, either companies that want to locate in the state or potentially expand in the state. Basically, we do not have any industrial buildings that are available to locate companies. The inventory has been taken, which is a good thing, but it’s still a challenge.
“This grant program helps communities be able to get properties that they feel are potential future development sites into a greater readiness state, which means doing due diligence, doing planning, doing engineering, understanding infrastructure needs and creating conceptual layouts of what a property might look like.
“There was roughly $1.5 million available statewide for this program. They took a number of applications, and we were very lucky in Shiawassee County to receive three of the 45 awards statewide, for a total of $212,000 to conduct site readiness on the three sites.
“These are 100 percent grants, and there are no public dollars being requested as a match. This is also conceptual. What I mean by that is, when either of these projects move forward, there will have to be formal site plans, formal zoning; they would have to go through the township for both of these projects. These grants will help us understand what the issues are with the properties and how can we reduce time, cost and risk for development.”
Horvath stressed that the $100,000 CDBG for the 2,000-acre site is “for the Project Tim site, but not for Project Tim.” He went on to note, “While the property itself is tied to the Project Tim development, these funds will be used for the site, not for the project. We are still waiting for updates on the project, just like everyone else here.”
The commissioners voted to move both items to their Thursday, Nov. 7 meeting for final consideration. Following passage on Nov. 7, formal applications would be submitted to the MEDC, which would then award the grants later this month or in early December. Bids would then be requested and more public comment would be needed to move the process along.