Whitmer announces economic development grant for SEI expansion

Officials: Project at K.I. Sawyer to create 44 jobs, relocate 11th St., create roundabout

LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Friday an economic development grant for Superior Extrusion Inc. to support the company’s expansion and creation of 44 new jobs at its location at Sawyer International Airport in Forsyth Township.

She also announced a Transportation Economic Development grant that will support 304 new jobs announced earlier this year at Magna Electric Vehicle Structures-Michigan’s new manufacturing facility in the St. Clair Industrial Park in St. Clair County.

“As we put Michigan back to work, these grants demonstrate the collaborative efforts around economic development and infrastructure we are taking here in the state,” Whitmer said in a news release. “We continue to move forward with creating good jobs for Michiganders while ensuring safe roads for drivers, which will help our state emerge from the pandemic stronger than before. Let’s get it done.”

Superior Extrusion Inc. expansion in Marquette County

SEI, located at K.I. Sawyer, near the Sawyer International Airport, is a “national leader in extruded aluminum products, producing and shipping more than 3,200 custom and standard profiles from its location in the Upper Peninsula,” officials said in a news release.

The company uses multiple hydraulic presses to create the aluminum shapes needed to make vehicle parts, docks, trailers, boats and many other products.

“The company’s increased business demands require them to expand their facilities; however, the only option is to the south on land currently occupied by 11th Street, the main route into the airport,” the release states.

In 2020, SEI shipped more than 35 million pounds of extruded aluminum to customers across the county and currently has 160 employees on the site.

“Superior Extrusion Inc. has grown tremendously over the past 23 years and expects continued growth in the future due to increasing demands of current customers as well as the addition of new customers and the production of electric vehicles,” said SEI Chairman of the Board George LaBlonde III in the release. “We sincerely appreciate our partnership with our local partners, the state of Michigan and the Federal Aviation Administration for their ongoing support as our company continues to grow at Sawyer International Airport and the increased safety and efficient traffic flow that will result in the current expansion.”

The Michigan Department of Transportation has awarded a state Transportation Economic Development Fund grant of $660,000 to help fund infrastructure improvements associated with the expansion pending all relevant federal approvals. This TEDF grant will help support work performed by the Marquette County Road Commission, including relocating 11th Street, building a new roundabout and road from the existing 11th Street south to 10th Street, resurfacing and adding turn lanes on Kelly Johnson Memorial Drive and 10th Street, and other associated road improvements. MCRC is contributing $482,811 to the project, officials said.

“The road commission is pleased and excited that we were able (to) work with MDOT and SEI to secure a Category A grant that will help SEI in their expansion efforts,” said James M. Iwanicki, MCRC engineer manager, in the release. “The relocation of 11th Street along with the improvements to Kelly Johnson Memorial Drive and 10th Street will greatly improve the road system for the traveling public.”

The Michigan Strategic Fund has also authorized an amendment increasing the company’s existing Michigan Business Development Program grant to $422,000 to help secure an additional $20.4 million in investment by SEI in Michigan over competing sites in Iowa and Ohio. The company originally received a $150,000 MBDP grant in 2017 for the creation of 30 jobs. Prior to this amendment, SEI had met the first jobs and investment milestones required, according to the release.

“It has been exciting to see Superior Extrusion’s growth over the years. Their new expansion is not only providing investment to the Sawyer area but also additional family-sustaining jobs,” said Lake Superior Community Partnership Director of Business Development Mary Myers in the release. “We’re very fortunate to have them in Marquette County.”

The project will provide “competitive wages that align with a strategic focus of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in supporting manufacturing industry growth in the state,” the release states. “The project will represent one of the largest manufacturing expansions in the U.P. in years.”

Magna Electric Vehicle Structures – Michigan Inc. in St. Clair County

MDOT also awarded a state TEDF grant that will support infrastructure improvements related to Magna’s Magna Electric Vehicle Structures-Michigan’s division, a new manufacturing facility in the St. Clair Industrial Park.

That project, and the 304 new jobs in St. Clair County it will support, were announced by Whitmer in February following approval of a $1.5 million MBDP grant approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund.

The expansion will support Magna’s contract with General Motors to provide battery enclosures for the soon-to-be manufactured EV Hummer at GM’s Factory Zero, located on the site of the former Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly Plant, also a TEDF grant recipient earlier this year.

“A key route connecting the site to I-94, Carney Drive is in poor condition and its continued decline would impact the company’s ability to ship their finished products,” the release states.

The city of St. Clair committed to rebuild Carney Drive and improve its intersections at Vine Street and Clinton Avenue, which gave the company “confidence to move forward with their proposed development at the industrial park,” the release states.

This TEDF Category A grant combined with additional City of St. Clair funds will be used to complete the road improvements. The total project cost is $1,306,150, including $864,218 in Category A funds and $441,932 from the city of St. Clair.


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