Sarah Hurwitz and 24 Hour News 8 web staff -
MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) -- A business dubbed the world's largest kayak manufacturer is expanding in Muskegon.
KL Outdoor's decision to ultimately stay and grow in the city highlights the transformation happening in Muskegon.
The city and state sweetened the deal for KL Outdoor to remain in Muskegon. Friday, the Michigan Strategic Fund announced a $765,000 performance-based grant in support of the project. The city also offered a 12-year tax abatement worth $69,000 to the company, and West Michigan Works extended hiring and training assistance.
"All the folks associated with the city, county and the state were tenacious in their approach. They had a 'can't say no' attitude and it became apparent to us very quickly that this would remain our home," said KL Outdoor Chief Executive Officer Chuck Smith.
Friday, Smith emphasized the company's commitment to Muskegon while announcing the $9.2 million expansion, which comes after a springtime merger with GSC Technologies.
Gov. Rick Snyder said the Great Lakes state is the perfect setting for the newly merged company, which is now the largest kayak manufacturer in the world.
"If you think about it, it's a wonderful marriage to have KL Outdoor already here but excited to expand here. Michigan is the state for this place, if you stop to think about it. I like to remind my fellow Midwestern governors a phrase I got off a t-shirt that I'd probably wear: That four out of the five Great Lakes prefer Michigan," said Snyder, who is also an avid kayaker.
With KL Outdoor's expansion comes jobs.
"Out of the gate we're investing almost $10 million in capital and infrastructure. We've also committed to add over 150 new jobs," Smith said.
Those comes will come over the next three years and be in both the corporate and manufacturing sectors, according to Smith.
The former home of SPX Corporation at 700 Terrace Point Drive will serve as KL Outdoor's world headquarters. The company plans to begin second floor renovations next week, and start operating out of the facility full-time by Thanksgiving.
Muskegon Mayor Stephen Gawron says KL Outdoor's announcement comes during a massive push for redevelopment in the evolving city, which said goodbye to another piece of the former Sappi paper mill last month.
"We're not an either-or type of a city. We're definitely moving away from the old line industrial but we're still a major manufacturing center," Gawron said.
Muskegon County Community Development Director Bob Lukens says KL Outdoor is a perfect example of how companies are capitalizing on new technology in Muskegon.
"The foundries in Muskegon have changed the way that they do business and they're doing more high-tech type manufacturing now," he explained.
The city is also attracting more tourists with downtown redevelopment, plans to build a convention center in the downtown area, and new residential and commercial construction.
"It's huge. I mean, you know we're reaching out to our largest markets - Chicago and Detroit," Lukens said.
- Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
- 2 arrested in connection to Dumbuya's murder
- Mom shares VA concerns with US lawmaker
- Cinderella Project provides free prom dresses to teens
- Authorities seeking missing Kzoo Co. woman