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Leading producer of complex investment-cast turbine components for the aerospace and industrial gas turbine industries

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Forming Technologies is latest Muskegon industry to expand; company to create 21 jobs

By Dave Alexander | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
on October 24, 2012 at 1:56 PM, updated October 24, 2012 at 1:57 PM


MUSKEGON, MI – The run of industrial expansions in the city of Muskegon’s Port City Industrial Park continues with Forming Technologies LLC’s plans for its growing manufacturing business.

FormingTech.JPG Forming Technologies LLC, 1885 E. Laketon Ave. has been producing reusable parts containers in Muskegon for eight years. The company has 68 employees and expects to hire 21 more in its current expansion.

Forming Technologies, 1885 W. Laketon Ave. received unanimous Muskegon City Commission approval Tuesday for industrial tax abatements on a $631,000 investment in buildings and equipment that is expected to create 21 additional jobs.

Forming Technologies, an industrial packaging producer mainly for the automotive parts sector, is one of a string of industrial expansions receiving tax incentive packages from the city. Already before the city commission this year has been GE Aviation, the Port City Group and ADAC Automotive.

“Some say manufacturing is dead … I think just the opposite is true that manufacturing is alive and well throughout Michigan and in particular Muskegon,” Muskegon City Manager Bryon Mazade said.

“These are not necessarily large expansions but these companies are making solid investments and creating jobs,” Mazade continued. “It’s a good sign. It’s very encouraging.”

Forming Technologies’ David Hembree told city commissioners that his company has had a 38 percent annual growth rate in an operation established in Muskegon in 2004. A new piece of equipment has brought the company new business and will lead to the hiring of 21 new employees into entry level positions, he said.

“With this new equipment, we will be able to grow our business,” Hembree said. “It’s been great being in Muskegon. You’ve been a great neighbor.”

Forming Technologies -- with accounting offices in Brighton, Mich. and sales operations in Mexico and Canada -- has a 40,000-square-foot building on the edge of the Port City Industrial Park with 68 current employees. Hembree said that the company is planning a building expansion for 2013.

The current expansion includes $70,693 in real property and $561,058 in personal property investments. The city has granted the company a 50 percent industrial tax break for 12 years on the real property and nine years on the personal property.

The tax abatements will provide the company with an annual savings of $5,663 and the city is expected to increase its annual income tax revenues $3,336 due to the increase in employment, city officials said.

Forming Technologies is a heavy-gauge thermoformed products manufacturer. Thermoforming is the manufacturing process of using plastic sheeting in a heat-forming technique to produce products of specific shapes.

In Forming Technologies case, the company creates material-handling products such as pallets and trays made out of heavy-duty plastic that carry various types of parts, according to the company website. The packaging containers are reusable for the parts manufacturer supplying the producer of the end products.

The company has a large group of customers, many in the automotive parts sector. Customers include General Motors, Volkswagen, Cummings, Kubota, General Electric, Delphi, Magna Powertrain and Benteler Automotive – companies with worldwide connections and West Michigan roots.

“We appreciate your growth and sharing your prosperity with our community,” Muskegon Mayor Steve Gawron told company officials. “Thank you for your investment.”

Besides Forming Technologies, the city this year has seen ADAC Automotive invest $20.47 million into its Muskegon operations expecting to create 130 jobs; the Port City Group at $11.33 million with 65 jobs; and GE Aviation/Johnson Technologies at $301,000 and 24 jobs.

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MEDC announces second year of export assistance for small businesses

altMEDC announces second year of export assistance for small businesses


Wednesday, October 17 2012

    LANSING - On the heels of Gov. Rick Snyder’s second trade mission to Asia in 12 months, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation today announced a second year of financial assistance to Michigan small and medium businesses for export-related activities through the Pure Michigan export incentive program. 

    “My recent trip to China reaffirmed that foreign countries offer new markets, distributorships and other business partnerships to Michigan companies. The Pure Michigan export incentive program helps Michigan companies tap into those markets and diversify their customer bases,” Governor Rick Snyder said. “In today’s globally interconnected world, export sales offer extraordinary opportunities for Michigan companies to grow and create new jobs.” 

    The $2.1 million in funding is from a second year of allocations to the State of Michigan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program. State project award amounts vary based on the proposed project plan and budget.  

    “Through the first year of the STEP program we were able to assist many Michigan businesses with increasing their sales in foreign markets – sales that help diversify companies’ customer bases, provide longer term stability and can support higher paying jobs,” said MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney. “This year's STEP award, a $600,000 increase over last year, is the second largest award in the nation, reflecting the Small Business Administration's strong confidence in Michigan's successful execution of export promotion to increase international sales.” 

    The SBA STEP grant program provides direct reimbursements to qualified companies with 500 or fewer employees globally for export-related activities, ranging from foreign market research to international trade missions.  

    The program’s goal is to increase Michigan’s export sales, increase the number of new-to-export companies and introduce current exporters to new foreign markets and buyers.  

    MEDC launched the STEP pilot program in October 2011. More than 400 Michigan companies received assistance through the first year of the program, with 132 companies entering 62 new global markets. New export sales of more than $21.2 million were reported as a result of the program. 

    The MEDC’s export plan was developed through collaboration with strategic export service providers including U.S. Department of Commerce, Michigan Small Business Administration, Michigan Small Business Technology & Development Center, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan State University’s Center for International Business Education and Research, along with Automation Alley, Van Andel Global Trade Center, Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, and Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

    The MEDC coordinates a statewide export assistance delivery system with public and private resources to ensure company access regardless of geographic location.  

    In September, leaders from 21 Michigan companies, many of them STEP program participants, traveled to China to meet with prospective partners, distributors and buyers to increase export opportunities from Michigan to China. The MEDC, which facilitated the mission, arranged more than 100 matchmaking meetings for the participating companies. Several of the companies also met with distributors who can sell their products throughout China, further increasing Michigan exports.

    The trip occurred in tandem with Gov. Snyder’s 10-day China trade mission, where he focused on strengthening relationships and developing pathways for increasing Michigan exports to the country. 

    For complete details on how companies can apply for assistance, including eligibility requirements and the application process, please visit http://www.michiganadvantage.org/STEP/. 

    The MEDC markets the state with a focus on business, talent, jobs and helping to grow the economy. For more on MEDC and its initiatives, visit: MichiganAdvantage.org.


    Johnson Technology/GE Aviation thrilled about the future of operations in Muskegon County

     By Dave Alexander | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    on October 10, 2012 at 11:13 AM, updated October 10, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    MUSKEGON, MI – Management is
    excited about developments at Johnson Technology in Muskegon’s Port City
    Industrial Park.

    KWS Johnson Technology 7 LISA TAYLOR.jpg 

    Braze Specialist Lisa Taylor, 46 of Norton Shores works with a nozzle at Johnson
    Technology in 2010.  Chronicle file photo

    The company, doing business in
    Muskegon as GE Aviation, was before the Muskegon City Commission Tuesday for an
    industrial tax abatement on a $301,000
    investment in a building expansion that is expected to lead to 24 new

    City commissioners unanimously approved the 12-year, 50 percent property tax
    break on GE Aviation’s new 3,000-square-foot building to be completed by
    Westwinds Construction of Spring Lake by the end of the year. But it is what is
    going into the building that excites company President David Yacavone.

    Yacavone was unable to provide specifics but he said the expansion will
    assist in developing a new manufacturing process and coating technology that has
    been created mainly by workers here in Muskegon. The development work is being
    done in conjunction with Johnson Technology’s parent company General Electric,
    Yacavone told MLive and The Chronicle.

    The Muskegon and Norton Shores plants of Johnson Technology are part of the
    GE Aviation division, which purchased the company several years ago. GE Aviation
    is a Cincinnati, Ohio-based division with $17.6 billion in revenues and 39,000
    workers in 80 locations worldwide.

    General Electric is a global technology, industrial and financial services
    giant that is one of the largest and most successful corporations in the world
    with $145 billion in revenues and 301,000 employees around the globe.

    Johnson Technology might be a small part of the overall GE business but for
    the workers and host cities in the Muskegon area it is a significant enterprise.
    With locations in Muskegon’s industrial park at 2034 Latimer Dr. and two sites
    in Norton Shores, the company has about 550 employees, making it one of the top
    five manufacturing operations in Muskegon County.

    GE Aviation in Muskegon produces jet engine parts for the commercial airline
    industry and for U.S. military aircraft. The GE Aviation division is a producer
    of jet engines, large and small. Muskegon-made parts go on engines such as the
    Boeing B737 and the military F/A 18 Hornet.

    KWS Johnson Technology 1 TOM JOHNSEN.jpg          

    Machine perator Tom Johnsen,  61 of Shelby works on washing a nozzle segment at Johnson
    Technology in 2010. The nozzles were to be used on a 787 Boeing Dreamliner
    aircraft (background).  Chronicle file photo


    The expansion at the Latimer Drive facility is due to new work being created
    for the local company by General Electric, said Michelle Messer, financial
    analyst for Johnson Technology. The city’s tax abatements help keep the company
    financially competitive, she told commissioners.

    Commissioner Willie German Jr. asked about the type of jobs the expansion
    will produce. Messer said they would be machinists, manufacturing technicians
    and machine operators.

    Messer told Commissioner Lea Markowski that the company will look for new
    workers that have experience and skill in the manufacturing sector.

    “These are not basic entry level jobs,” she told commissioners.

    The property tax break on the $301,000 investment in the building expansion
    will save the company $4,302 annually over the 12 years of the abatement and the
    city will receive the same amount in new property taxes each of those years. In
    addition, the increased employment is expected to generate $3,844 annually in
    new income tax revenue for the city, officials said.

    “We want to wish you the best of luck,” Muskegon Mayor Steve Gawron told
    Johnson Technology managers. “Thank you for your continued investment in

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    Muskegon's Port City Group survives recession and automotive restructuring to enjoy expansion

    Dave Alexander | 
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 </script> By Dave Alexander | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    on September 26, 2012

    MUSKEGON, MI – The ride up has been a lot more fun than was the ride down, said Port City Group President B. John Essex, Jr.

    JohnEssex.jpg Port City Group President B. John Essex, Jr. addressed the Muskegon City Commission Tuesday explaining the company's expansion plans.

    The Port City Group is expanding with an $11.33 million investment, a new building, a new company division and the potential for at least 65 more jobs. The Muskegon City Commission Tuesday unanimously approved four separate property tax breaks for three separate Port City Group companies.

    Like all companies in the automotive sector, the Great Recession and the near implosion of the North American automobile industry left Port City going from 365 employees in 2008 to a low of 170 at the depths of the economic downturn.

    But as other auto parts manufacturers went away, companies like the Port City Group began to take on more and more business. The company has grown to 450 employees today in Muskegon and Norton Shores.

    When it was time for expansion, the company founded as an aluminum die casting manufacturer in 1980 remained in Muskegon County.

    “We have been offered some lucrative proposals,” Essex told city commissioners. “We got some insane proposals out of Indiana. But this is home and this is where we want to stay.”

    The city has provided Alloy Resources Corp. at 2281 Port City Blvd. a 100 percent personal property tax exemption on a $3.1 million investment in equipment for 12 years. The expansion will increase production of recycled aluminum for all of the Port City Group’s needs and other casting plants in the Muskegon area, Essex said.

    PortCityGroup1.jpg New equipment has allowed the Port City Group to diversify to LED light products and medical devices.

    The new company is Engineered Aluminum Castings Inc. at 2121 Latimer Dr. The new Port City Group division has made the former Bekaert Steel Co. building its home and received a 100 percent personal property tax exemption on a $7 million investment in equipment.

    Engineered Aluminum Castings also received a 50 percent property tax break on a $738,000 in building improvements. Both tax breaks are for 12 years.

    Finally, Muskegon Castings Corp., 2325 S. Sheridan Rd. will receive a 50 percent property tax break on a $501,000 building expansion for a 13,500 square foot addition. The tax break is also for 12 years.

    Essex said the 65 new job level is very attainable and a conservative estimate. He said the company could be hiring even more mid-level, skilled technicians and entry level production workers.

    “This is a company that has taken a vacant building and made it alive again producing products for U.S. manufacturers,” Mayor Steve Gawron said. “They are proving that metals and tool and die work is not dying. We are ground zero for the metals industry and Muskegon can be a top industrial town again.

    “It will not be 2,000 employees at a huge foundry but 65 jobs at a time to produce 2,000 jobs in our manufacturing sector,” the mayor said.

    Essex praised the professional service his company received from city economic development staff. The Port City Group also is working with Muskegon Area First, the local economic development agency, to receive assistance from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Essex said. The city incentives were needed to trigger upcoming state assistance, he said.

    “This is exciting stuff from where we were at,” Essex said. “It is a lot more fun to be riding up and not much fun when we were going down. That was the most challenging time in my career.”

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    Watch Pure Michigan video from Rob Bliss, Status Creative here

    Published: Sunday, September 09, 2012, 2:42 PM   



    Downtown Muskegon draws a crowd for their cameo in Pure Michigan video


    screenshot.jpgDetroit Lions players huddle over the camera as one of the many shots in Pure Michigan video

    GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- Will a video shot from the seven-day, 50-city road trip
    across Michigan be the next to go viral for the Grand Rapids marketing firm
    Status Creative?

    Here's your chance to see for yourself.

    Rob Bliss and Jeff Barrett, co-founders of Status Creative, debuted a portion
    of the video at Ford Field this afternoon. You can watch the full version

    The video, just less than 4 minutes long, is a
    statewide singalong to the song "Good Time" by Owl City.

    If you are unfamiliar with any of the places shown in the video, Bliss and
    Barrett have included links to all of the places they visited next to the lyric
    in the song for the corresponding scene.

    So, if you want to learn more about any of the sites they visited as you
    watch the video, more information on how you can visit that place is just a
    click away.

    The video was sponsored by Pure Michigan and Chrysler.


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