GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — Michigan is giving online retailer Amazon $4 million to ensure it opens another facility in the state.

The Michigan Strategic Fund board approved the incentive Tuesday. Seattle-based Amazon plans to create up to 1,000 full-time jobs at the $150 million fulfillment center, which will be located at the southwest corner of 68th Street and Patterson Avenue in Gaines Township, south of Grand Rapids.

Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO Jeff Mason says the project will likely also attract more businesses to the area. 

The warehouse will be Amazon’s first in West Michigan, but fourth in the state. In the past 18 months, Amazon opened distribution centers in Livonia, Romulus and Shelby Township, according to the MEDC. The state has authorized grants to each since late 2016.

>>PDF: Project Rapids proposal

Amazon will lease space on land owned by furniture maker Steelcase. A third party will build the center. Neither township officials nor Amazon have shared details about when construction will begin.

“The only thing I can really say is at least now I can say the word ‘Amazon’ (instead of code name ‘Project Rapids’),” Mark Sisson, the Gaines Township planner, told 24 Hour News 8.


Economic development officials say Amazon chose the Grand Rapids-area site over competing sites in the Midwest. Gaines Township is providing a 50 percent property tax abatement. Amazon Economic Development Manager Ryan Wilson said the area’s “attractive workforce” was also a lure.

“West Michigan as a whole is where people want to come,” Sisson, the township planner, said.

Sisson said township officials are celebrating the news of more jobs, more money and more exposure. He said his township and the rest of the region will reap several economic benefits.

“There is a snowball effect,” he told 24 Hour News 8.

Sisson explained that snowball began rolling when Nevada-based data storage company Switch announced its plans to buy and move into Steelcase’s old pyramid site, not far from the planned Amazon warehouse.

“The idea that a catalyst like that could come here and that there might actually be other businesses to follow suit, to see one actually coming here — whether there’s a direct relationship or not, you really can’t say — but it just becomes part of a buzz that I think is important,” Sisson said.

Rich Till, who owns PJ’s Pizza, Coffee, and Ice Cream about two miles away from the new warehouse site, expects a boost in business to trickle his way.

“It’s just one of those things that kind of lifts all boats,” Till said. “They (Amazon) bring in a tide with them.”

He said he considered the Tuesday announcement “great news” and was already thinking about new menu items tailored to new customers.

Till said he sees the Amazon addition making a significant impact on West Michigan.

“They have a big business already, sure, but when you have people working locally, they’re paying taxes, and they’re earning the paycheck that they intend to spend locally and all that stuff,” he said. “I think it should be a good thing for everybody.

The MEDC says the new Amazon jobs will come with benefits that include 95 percent reimbursement of college tuition costs. While it’s too early for hiring, Amazon plans to eventually post West Michigan job openings on its website here.