County advances grant apps, sets hearings

Justin Horvath, president and CEO of the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership, gives a presentation to commissioners on the importance of Community Development Block Grants during Monday’s Economic and Physical Development Committee meeting.

CORUNNA — The Economic and Physical Development Committee advanced a motion Monday, setting a public hearing to take input on a grant application that would help pave the way for “Project Tim” — a proposed steel mill in Vernon Township.

The public hearing is set for the county board’s Committee of the Whole meeting Nov. 6.

The $100,000 grant is for site planning for a development known as Project Tim. The proposed $5-billion steel factory would employ up to 800 people on a roughly 2,000-acre parcel of land northwest of Durand, near the New Lothrop Road/Lansing Road intersection in Vernon Township.

Development representative Tim Nichols was tight-lipped Monday on the progress of the project.

“Things are going,” he said in response to questions about the development.

There are three sites in Shiawassee County that are eligible for these grants, according to Justin Horvath, president and CEO of the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership: one is a city-owned property in Corunna, the other two were discussed Monday.

“The state has recognized that those two sites are great for future development. And they decided they want to be able to help us with that,” Horvath said.

Community Development Block Grants are cash grants and do not require matching local dollars.

“It’s to make them more site ready, shovel ready if you will,” Horvath said.

A second grant set for a public hearing is for a 40-acre parcel owned by Great Lakes Fusion at 7505 M-71 in Vernon Township. If the application is approved, the grant would be for $42,600.

The company has owned the property since 2014 and is still considering what to do with it. They may sell it or develop it.

The company that previously operated on the site made cement products, including cement pipes and the property was littered with old cement and other things that need to be removed for it to be viable.

Joe Libby, business development manager at Great Lakes Fusion, said he isn’t sure what the company has planned for the site; the grant will allow the company to determine its options.

“The plan right now is to do a master plan. We want to know what’s best for the property. Is it to split it up into smaller parcels or keep it together? Is light industrial the best or is there something else better? When we applied for the grant those are some of the questions we wanted to be answered,” he said.

He said if the company ends up selling the land, the master plan would make it easier for development

“This is also to find out what the needs and wants of potential owners are. They’re going to want to know what’s there. This will be sort of like an inventory process that will tell what kind of sewer and electricity service the site has,” Libby said.

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