MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) - Free land. No taxes. And discounted water and sewer rates.That's the offer for job providers under a joint city-countyprogram in the Muskegon area.
Prices already had come down, but Muskegon City ZoningAdministrator Mike Franzak said it was only a matter of time beforeofficials realized that "we'd really have to be creative."
Dubbed "Muskegon 25," the program has about 130 acres to offerat the Seaway Industrial Park in the city of Muskegon and theMuskegon County Business Park North in Dalton Township.
Business Park North sits on the site of a former chemical plant,but an EPA spokeswoman in Chicago said the state of Michigan hascleaned the "superfund" site for industrial re-use.
"If you can pledge to create 25 jobs, you will get at least fivefree acres of industrial land," Franzak told 24 Hour News 8. "Andthat goes up incrementally."
Companies that pledge to offer 100 or more jobs can get 30 freeacres.
Businesses in the program will have to sign an agreement tocreate the jobs within two years, he said. If they don't followthrough, they'll have to pay for the land.
The water- and sewer-rate discounts start at 50 percent with 25jobs created and go up to an 80 percent discount for 100 or morejobs.
And since the land is all within state Renaissance Zones, thereare no state or local property or income taxes.
Taxpayers will be giving away their land for free under theprogram, but in exchange, they'll get jobs in their community andthe economic growth that creates.
"I think the return on the investment is going to be prettygood," Franzak said.
But will the offer draw companies in?
Grand Valley State University economics department chair PaulIsely said tax, utility and land costs are relatively smallcompared to a business' other expenses.
"On the other hand, what this does is it shows firms Muskegon isopen for business, excited to get their business and will dowhatever it takes to bring them there," Isely said. "So, that's avery powerful message."
That message first went out about three weeks ago.
Since then, "we've probably had between five and 10 [inquiries]with a couple of series ones," Franzak said. "We have some peoplelooking at possibly investing next year," but the deals have notbeen finalized.
Calls have come from both inside and outside of Michigan, hesaid.
The community could be getting more of them. A national realestate machans is reporting on the offer.
"That should be out next month," the zoning administratorsaid.
Online: Muskegon 25
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