Michigan invests big to create thousands of new manufacturing jobs in Genesee County

By Kyle Kaminski

May 23, 2024

More than $250 million in state funding is set to help developers prepare a massive parcel of land in Mundy Township for redevelopment—and create at least 2,000 jobs.

MICHIGAN—Michigan leaders this week announced a major state investment to support a redevelopment project in Genesee County, bringing a massive tract of land in Mundy Township one step closer to becoming the home of one of the state’s largest manufacturing operations.

The Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) on Tuesday approved $250 million to redevelop about 1,200 acres of agricultural land in Mundy Township, which state officials are eyeing as the home of a new, advanced manufacturing facility to help revitalize the region’s manufacturing base.

The project is one of several economic development projects in Michigan that secured state funding this week. The MSF also approved $9 million in funds to support the project last month.

“Today’s projects will make cities and towns across Michigan better places to live, work, and invest,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement this week. “With today’s shovel-ready site in Mundy Township … we are delivering on our comprehensive economic development strategy.”

The redevelopment plans are far from final, as state officials have yet to find—or at least publicly disclose—which major manufacturers might be interested in setting up shop on the land.

But whatever is built there promises to pay big dividends for the local economy, said Tyler Rossmaessler, director of the Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance, the group behind the redevelopment. Rossmaessler has said the manufacturing site will attract no less than $2 billion in private investment and lead to the creation of at least 2,000 new, high-wage jobs.

In a recent interview with The ‘Gander, Rossmaessler said that officials are still actively searching for a company to take over the land and invest in the community to help expand opportunities for future generations.

“Opportunities for young people to stay here, that’s what we’re thinking about,” Rossmaessler said. “Thousands of jobs created will allow for millions of dollars pumped into the economy, and that would mean when people go to work at this site, they will have to buy coffee, cars, carpet, furniture, and clothing. The small businesses in our community that do provide those services will benefit from that. The ripple effect is large and vast and can go many different ways.”

Here’s the deal:

In recent years, the Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance has contemplated a litany of plans for the 1,200-acre swathe of farmland in Mundy Township—known as the Advanced Manufacturing District—including for engineering, robotics, or another “high-tech” manufacturing operation.

Michigan invests big to create thousands of new manufacturing jobs in Genesee County

Officials are still exploring the potential uses and marketing the “megasite”—namely to see which companies would make the biggest investments and create the most jobs in the community. City manager Chad Young and Tonya Ketzler, township supervisor, were reportedly asked to sign non-disclosure agreements as economic development officials field various ideas.

But with this week’s state support, those plans—whatever they are—are now closer to reality.

Together by investing in people, winning projects, and revitalizing places, we can grow our economy and lead the future of advanced manufacturing,” Whitmer said in a statement.

What’s coming?

That’s to be determined—but the development site could be attractive to a wide array of industries, including for electric vehicle battery development and semiconductor manufacturing.

Rossmaessler said officials haven’t narrowed it down to just one industry—but said the project aims to ignite a manufacturing comeback for the Flint region, which has seen a decades-long economic decline that’s only been exacerbated by the water crisis and pandemic.

“In the 1970s, General Motors had about 80,000 employees in Genesee County. Today it’s got about 8,000 employees. So we’ve experienced decades of job loss,” he said. “The people and the economy of Genesee County are resilient. So, despite things like losing tens of thousands of jobs, despite things like the Flint water crisis, our community continues to move forward.”

The manufacturing jobs that would be likely to come to the megasite would also reportedly include positions that would be well-paying, but not necessarily require a college education.

“Anyone who is going to get a state incentive is going to offer a good-paying job,” Rossmaessler told The ‘Gander last month. “We’re always looking at jobs that are going to provide great opportunities for young people—including some that don’t always need a college education.”

Why here?

The land in Mundy Township is the state’s most development-ready, large-scale site after Ford took land in Marshall for an electric vehicle battery plant and plans for a megasite in Eagle Township near Lansing were shelved due to local opposition, reports Crain’s Detroit Business.

And with so few sites of more than 1,000 acres available for redevelopment nationwide, the land in Mundy Township “stands to be highly sought after,” state officials said in a press release.

“These projects have the potential to transform spaces and people through the opportunities they provide, underscoring our commitment to ensure that everyone can ‘make it in Michigan’ and our state thrives for years to come,” Whitmer said in a statement announcing the funding.

Experts have said that population loss is among the greatest threats to Genesee County’s economy—with the 2020 Census showing a loss of nearly 20,000 residents since 2010.

“Such a project will offer opportunities for our young people so they won’t have to move away to find good-paying jobs,” Kristy Cantleberry of Esquire Property Group told Bridge Michigan.

Whatever takes shape on the land is also expected to help the local community “grow as a thriving hub for Michigan’s core economic industries,” state officials said in a press release.

“Mundy Township is a great example,” Rossmaessler said. “It’s a growing community. It’s a great place to live—great schools, great amenities—and this is going to fit really nicely into that community—a high-end advanced manufacturer that’s going to create thousands of jobs.”

In part because of the property’s proximity to the Motor City and other major manufacturers, officials have said the site also “has everything an advanced manufacturer would need to thrive”—including access to highways, railroads, and the nearby Bishop International Airport.

“Genesee County put the world on wheels. We’re good at making things,” Rossmaessler said. “Access to talent, the intersection of I-69 and I-75, the infrastructure—power, gas, and water—and being in the Detroit region provides so many great opportunities for this site.”

What’s next?

This state funding announced this week comes from the state’s Strategic Site Readiness Program, which provides grants, loans, and other assistance to help prepare land for redevelopment, attract investments from big-name companies, and ultimately create more jobs.

Last month, the project received $9.2 million in state support through the program, which state officials have said will enable the Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance to “maintain control over the existing parcels of land” and “further bolster their capacity to attract investment” in the area.

That cash can also be used to buy more adjacent land and develop infrastructure near the site.

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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