Board supports expansion of Forsyth business

MARQUETTE — Marquette County Board of Commissioners has sanctioned the expansion of a successful Forsyth Township business.

The board voted unanimously Wednesday to support Superior Extrusion Inc.’s proposed $10 million expansion of its existing facilities at K.I. Sawyer.

The expansion is expected to create a minimum of 30 new jobs, according to a June 20 letter from SEI Board of Directors’ Chairman George LaBlonde III to the board.

The proposed expansion would consist of the purchase of a 2,000-ton, 7-inch aluminum extrusion press and associated equipment and could increase the size of the existing operation by 75,000 square feet, the letter states.

LaBlonde told the board that SEI has been conducting a feasibility study in relation to its current customer base to consider possible options for the location of the proposed facilities based on its current location at K.I. Sawyer.

“Currently, 20 percent of our annual production is distributed in the State of Michigan, while the remaining 80 percent is outside of the state. Specifically, 39 percent of our production is shipped to Des Moines, Iowa, with the remaining 41 percent to other Midwestern states,” the letter states.

According to the letter, the company has been considering the possibility of locating the proposed facility near its largest customer in Iowa, or attaining a centralized location in the Midwest.

LaBlonde said local support would ensure that any expansion would allow SEI, which currently employs 135 people, to stay in the area.

“This will terminate any further consideration of locating this needed facility in Des Moines, Iowa,” LaBlonde told the board duing the meeting.

Board Chairman Gerald Corkin said SEI has outshined commissioners’ expectations over the last two decades.

“This is great news to see you willing to invest this kind of money and invest it in Marquette County, and put 30 more people to work,” Corkin said. “A lot of these people come out of Forsyth Township and over in that area, so it’s important to the south end of the county. It’s important to the whole county, but it’s nice to see some people get help over there in Forsyth — that’s good stuff.”

Commissioner Bill Nordeen said it is important to recognize successful businesses on the former Air Force Base.

“We have had so many prospects, and we have all been to meetings with dozens and dozens and dozens of prospects that came through and didn’t turn out,” Nordeen said. “Or some people that turned out and then left in the middle of the night after we gave them some money. I think that we need to support that when we have a good business that keeps growing. We want to help that. They had the opportunity to go to Iowa. I was aware of that conversation. It might have even been a better business decision because when they make the product they are shipping in all directions — but they chose to stay here. They chose to stay the course.”

Nordeen said SEI is also seeking a tax abatement from Forsyth Township.

“Marquette County has no say in that, but I would certainly support Superior Extrusion’s expansion and increase in employment,” Nordeen said. “I would also ask Forsyth Township to issue that tax abatement to help them for a few years.”

The board also approved a revised ordinance allowing the sale of tobacco and electronic delivery systems in bars.

The ordinance had been revised in August 2016 to more clearly define a licensed retailer, but bars were omitted from that definition.

According to a memo from the Marquette County Health Department, objections were voiced to bars being excluded from tobacco sales during public comment at several Marquette County Board of Health meetings spanning from January to April.

At their meeting on May 24, the Board of Health approved the ammended ordinance with a 4-3 vote.

The ordinance states that the issuance of tobacco retail licenses “for the sale of the associated products shall be limited to convenience stores, grocery stores, bars, liquor stores, tobacco specialty shops, and vaping specialty shops.”

The Marquette County Board approved the first reading of the ammended ordinance after a public hearing at a regular meeting on June 20.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.