MEGA Incentives May Create 600-Plus Jobs in Oakland County

Posted on May 18, 2011

Oakland County could receive $26.9 million of investment to create 614 jobs, mostly in technology and new growth industries, under a package of incentives to be approved today by the Michigan Economic Growth Authority.

The county is home to three proposed attraction or expansion deals in Novi, Orion Township and Troy — including 252 new jobs from an expansion and relocation by Summit Health Inc., a Southfield-based wellness-plan screening and education service.

A fourth proposed expansion in Oakland County was tabled today until a future MEGA board meeting.

“Just in the first five months of this year, we’ve averaged 127 percent growth over the same period of last year,” said Richard Penington, founder, president and CEO of Summit Health. “And the kind of expansion we’re having will require space for warehousing and for a reference laboratory (for blood samples), which we’re not really zoned properly to have here in Southfield.”

Summit, which has more than 65 employees at its current Southfield offices, expects to have about 120 by year’s end and could have nearly 320 within five years under a planned expansion and relocation to Haggerty Road in Novi.

MEGA expects today to approve a three-year employment tax credit in exchange for an $11.4 million investment, including a $2 million building lease to add up to 252 jobs in Novi within five years.

Penington said Summit is growing on new demand from insurers, health maintenance organizations and other companies for on-site wellness screening, testing and educational services. Customers for its services includeBlue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Aetna Inc. and HealthMedia, an Ann Arbor-based health software company owned by Johnson & Johnson.

A $200 million federal program created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 will allow small businesses with 100 or fewer employees to apply for grants to create comprehensive workplace wellness plans. The act also provides for health care premium discounts of 30 percent for employees who meet various wellness goals, including weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and not smoking.

New jobs at Summit will include laboratory technicians, wellness program managers, information technology employees and staffing coordinators who will help oversee a network of part-time testing employees nationwide, Penington said.

Also adding Oakland jobs in alternative energy will be Kennersys Americas LLC, a subsidiary of Muenster, Germany-based Kennersys Group. Kennersys Americas plans to spend $10.2 million and add 30 sales and administrative jobs within five years at a new U.S. headquarters in Troy. An additional 130 manufacturing jobs will follow at a location to be determined by 2013.

The company sells wind turbines in Europe and India, and the Troy operation will be its first presence in the Western Hemisphere.

Farmington Hills-based Tianhai Electric North America Inc., a supplier of automotive wire-harness systems and a subsidiary of China Auto Electronics Group Ltd., plans to invest up to $5.5 million and add up to 202 jobs above its current 24 employees, with an expansion and relocation into Orion Township. The company plans to build a new headquarters for all its non-Chinese automaker customers on Kay Industrial Drive.

Other MEGA incentive deals to be approved today include:

• A state brownfield tax credit of $10 million for General Motors Co., which plans an $80 million investment to redevelop and expand the outmoded Cadillac Building on its GM Technical Center campus in Warren. The expansion is expected to add up to 25 new IT jobs.

• A $1.5 million tax capture for the East Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to support a $7.9 million mixed-use commercial development. Buildings will be demolished to make way for a four-story structure with 31 residential units, a restaurant and two retail spaces on the first floor. The project is expected to create up to five permanent full-time and 50 permanent part-time jobs.

• A $1 million tax capture for the Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to support a proposed $17 million redevelopment of a currently underused city block into multistory, mixed-use buildings.

By Chad Halcom, Crains Detroit