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Amazon receives $4.5M performance-based grant from state

Macomb County Department of Roads to improve 23 Mile, Mound roads

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published October 9, 2017

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — On Sept. 27, the Macomb County Executive’s Office announced that the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) board had approved a $4.5 million performance-based grant to ease Amazon’s move into the southeast corner of 23 Mile and Mound roads.

The Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development worked with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) to secure state support of the project.

The MSF, part of the MEDC, “was created by P.A. 270 of 1984 and has broad authority to promote economic development and create jobs,” according to the MEDC’s website, www.michiganbusiness.org.

“The Michigan Strategic Funding Board looks at job creation and the investment the company is making here and then out-of-state competition, so in this case they were looking at other Midwestern states, as well as Canada,” MEDC Public Information Officer Kathleen Achtenberg said. “It helped them make the decision to locate here instead of some other location.”

Shelby Township will provide a property tax abatement in support of the project, according to an Amazon press release.

“This project highlights Michigan’s strategic location, within 500 miles of almost half of the U.S. and Canadian markets,” MEDC CEO Jeff Mason said in a statement. “We are thrilled to be working with Amazon on their third project here in Michigan.”

Amazon recently announced that it will invest $40 million in the project and remediate 85 acres of the 200-acre property, the site of the former Visteon plant, in order to build a 1-million-square-foot logistics optimization center at 50500 Mound Road.

The estimated cost to remediate the contaminated property is $9.1 million, and the Macomb County Brownfield Authority agreed to reimburse developer Hillwood Enterprises through tax increment financing over a 20-year capture period.

Amazon said the fulfillment center will be open for business in 2018 and create 1,000 new full-time, full-benefit jobs. Employees will pick, pack and ship large items, such as household décor, sporting equipment and gardening tools, according to Amazon.

Macomb County Department of Roads Director Bryan Santo told the Shelby-Utica News that the department is currently looking at the traffic impacts of the new development on 23 Mile and Mound roads, and how the department can facilitate traffic improvements to help with the volume of traffic generated by Amazon fulfilment center employees and truck traffic.

He said a $500,000 figure discussed by the county is an estimate from Amazon’s engineers about how much it will cost the MCDR to make the necessary improvements.

“We are looking at improvements on Mound Road — widening Mound Road to extend the center left turn lane to the south, and that would be down to the employee entrance off Mound for the redevelopment,” Santo said. “And then, obviously, we have entrances off of 23 Mile Road. We are looking at deceleration tapers and lanes for the employee entrance off 23 Mile Road.”

Vince Viviano, a Shelby Township trustee and community relations coordinator for the MCDR, said the MCDR will make improvements to 23 Mile and Mound roads during a Sept. 14 Board of Trustees meeting.

“The tenant themselves are going to be responsible for improving that signal there, if it all goes the way we think it should go — the emergency signal — which I think there’s been some talk about a fully activated signal there,” Viviano said.

Santo elaborated that Amazon is looking at making improvements to the signal itself, which is located where Amazon’s truck entrance will be and is adjacent to the Shelby Township Fire Department headquarters, further east on 23 Mile Road.

“Currently, the existing signal is on flash right now. They are looking at contributing monies to that signal where the truck entrance is,” he said.

Santo added that Amazon estimates the fulfilment center will be operational in the latter part of 2018 — “Octoberish” — so the MCDR will definitely make its improvements or whatever is needed prior to then, most likely during the summer of 2018.

Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said the best hope for the parcel in question before Amazon came along was outdoor storage.

“It’s exciting to welcome the world’s No. 1 commerce operation to our township,” Stathakis said. “Shelby Township has the service, infrastructure and ability to assist the continued growth and success of Amazon.”

Hillwood Enterprises proposes to remediate the site to meet all state and federal standards. The cleanup activities include “environmental assessment and investigation, demolition of existing building slabs, sub-slab depressurization, stormwater management systems, and soil management,” according to the Executive’s Office.

“Being part of the team that helped to attract this incredible investment to our community has been an exhilarating experience,” said John Paul Rea, director of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development, in a statement. “We are grateful to the private- and public -sector organizations who worked with us to make this happen.”

Rea termed the undertaking a “showcase project” that he hoped will illustrate the county’s ability to facilitate large-scale projects and integrate expedited resources.

“As we continue to see an increasing convergence between the tech and manufacturing sectors, Amazon’s continued investment here proves the value of Michigan’s diverse, hardworking talent pool and reformed business climate,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement.

Since 2016, Amazon has announced multiple facilities in Michigan — including three fulfillment centers and one sortation center in Livonia, Romulus, Brownstown Township and Shelby Township, as well as a corporate office in Detroit — bringing with it more than 3,500 jobs, according to a press release.

Rea did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Shevaun Brown, Amazon’s regional operations PR manager, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

To learn more about working at an Amazon fulfillment center, visit amazondelivers.jobs.