Group seeks to retain businesses

Published 7:14 am Thursday, April 20, 2006

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Hundreds of business men and women filled the conference room of the Niles Inn Wednesday morning for the 2006 annual board meeting of the Southwestern Michigan Economic Growth Alliance, Inc.
The Southwestern Alliance is non-profit corporation focused on creating and retaining industrial and technology jobs in the greater Niles area.
President of the Southwest Alliance, Mike Dreher, and executive director Sharon Tyler presented a slide show reviewing the businesses receiving retention contacts and Industrial Facilities Exemption Certificates during 2005. The presentation was displayed in the form of the board game Monopoly, with Tyler and Dreher taking turns rolling the dice to advance to the next business.
Tyler said the Southwest Alliance meets with its members annually. The retention contacts provide the businesses with an opportunity to get assistance from the Southwest Alliance in areas such as filing tax abatements.
Some of the businesses mentioned included Ducarra Aviation and Innovation Machining Corp., both of Niles.
Tyler and Dreher also acknowledged local businesses that qualified for Industrial Facilities Exemption Certificates in 2005. The exemptions are available for a maximum of 12 years for industrial and high-technology facilities and their machinery and equipment.
The total investment amount on the exemptions in 2005 reached $22,168,639, which retained 1,064 jobs and created 290 new positions.
All the businesses acknowledged by the Southwest Alliance were approved for 12 year abatements, Tyler said.
Dreher said area businesses “did well for the economy” creating and maintaining jobs.
One of the larger projects in 2005 belonged to Polymer Color Services, Inc. of Niles, which is a supplier of colorants to the plastics industry. The company expanded its operations from its home in Easley, S.C. and built a new 20,050 square foot facility in the Niles Industrial Park. The investment of more than $1.5 million created 11 new jobs in the Niles area.
Tyler said business in Southwest Michigan is uniquely competitive because of the area's geographical position on the border with Indiana and therefore attracting businesses to the area depends on the exemptions.
The Southwest Alliance also re-elected eight directors and named one new director. All terms take effect immediately and expire in April of 2009.