Michigan ranks 4th nationwide in major corporate facilities and expansions

Posted on March 6, 2013

LANSING, MI — Michigan ranked 4th in the country for the number of new major corporate facilities and expansions last year, according to Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup.

The report tallies the number of “new corporate facility projects with significant impact.” Site Selection is a global publication that’s distributed to business executives responsible for location and facility planning.

Michigan had 337 qualified projects last year, up from just 85 in 2011. The figures do not include retail, government, school or hospital projects. New buildings and expansions must meet at least one of these criteria: invest $1 million or more, create at least 50 new jobs or add at least 20,000 square feet of new floor area.

Texas won the Governor’s Cup and topped the list with 761 projects, followed by Ohio with 491, Pennsylvania with 430, Michigan with 337 and Illinois with 322. (Read more and see the full top 10 here.) About half of Michigan’s projects were expanded manufacturing facilities.

“Once again, the nation is taking notice of the bold reforms now driving Michigan forward. More companies are choosing to grow their futures in Michigan and that is reinforcing our well-earned reputation as America’s comeback state,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement. “The best way to boost our state’s economy and improve the quality of life for all is to create an environment that encourages business investment, job growth and innovation.”

In his first two years in office, Snyder redesigned incentive programs, approved regulatory reforms, and eliminated the Michigan Business Tax as well as the Personal Property Tax for certain businesses. He also signed legislation making Michigan the 24th right-to-work state, a controversial move criticized by Democrats and labor unions but hailed by site selectors and Republicans as a way to put Michigan on the map for business locations and expansions.

“(Right to work) will certainly keep Michigan on lists of states that are under consideration. It is important to some companies, perhaps not all,” said Mark Arend, Site Selection editor-in-chief.

Arend said he would not go as far to say the new law would directly result in enough actual projects to affect rankings.

Michigan last placed in the top 10 in 2010, when it ranked 7th. There also was a stretch in the 1990s when Michigan seemed to win every year for several years, Arend said.

“It’s good to see Michigan winning the investment that it is,” he said.

Snyder pointed to several major projects that began or were announced last year, including General Motors Co.’s innovation center in Warren, an expansion at Magna Sealing and Glass Systems in Holland Township, Hark Orchids’ new facility near Comstock Township and Dart Container’s headquarters expansion near Mason.

Five Michigan metropolitan areas were among the best in their population categories for new and expanded facilities, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, Jackson and Saginaw.

The ranking sends a message of Michigan’s “highly competitive business climate,” said Michael Finney, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

“In the last two years, we have greatly improved Michigan’s business climate and infrastructure, making it easier for businesses to find new paths to prosperity, and our changes are paying off,” he said in a statement.

The MEDC recently came under fire for touting right to work and other business climate changes in advertisements using the Pure Michigan logo. They appeared in the Wall Street Journal, site selection magazines and other business publications.

The move angered some Pure Michigan fans who said it wrongly politicized what has been a very popular tourism campaign, and marketing experts questioned whether the move hurt Pure Michigan’s brand image.

Democrats criticized the MEDC and Snyder, who later said the issue was divisive enough that it shouldn’t have been front-and-center on the ad.

An MEDC official told lawmakers last month that further advertising with a combination of Pure Michigan and right to work was on hold while the issue is evaluated.

Melissa Anders, MLive.