Battle Creek Unlimited: Battle Creek, MI economic development

BCU is privileged to work with Battle Creek leaders, agencies, and organizations to create a sustainable economy and add value to the community.  
  • Battle Creek Unlimited representatives share information and updates on key economic development issues at a city commission workshop.  
  • Several Fort Custer Industrial Park companies announce expansions.  Marley Precision which began operations in the mid 1990s opens a second location in the Park. TODA America and Nexthermal Corporation expand operations and create 50 new jobs.
  • In the downtown, a local entrepreneur acquires 32 West Michigan Avenue with plans to create a multi-tenant facility.  A retired physician announces plans to open a book store.
  • After 37 years of dedicated service, Dan Beatty retires.  In addition, Karl Dehn resigns and accepts a position at Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
  • A search firm is under contract to identify potential candidates to lead the organization.  
  • Site Selection Magazine ranks Battle Creek #8 nationally for economic development projects in 2014.  In 2012, Battle Creek tied for second place and in 2013, Battle Creek tied for sixth place.
  • Denso announces plans to add 100 jobs in a $53.6 million expansion of its auto components manufacturing operations.  On March 1 the company reported 2,762 associates at the Battle Creek plant.
  • Battle Creek Unlimited Board of Directors hires Marie Briganti as the new President and CEO.  Ms. Briganti has 14 years of experience in the business and economic sectors, including 4 years in risk assessment and account consulting for Dun & Bradstreet.
A two-minute video highlighting recent workforce development, investment and growth in Battle Creek.
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INITIATIVES 2014 - 2015
Create a healthy business climate
  • Augment available property diversity for appeal to potential investors
  • Promote economic development policy review, development, and implementation for local, state and federal governments
  • Actively promote opportunities for enhanced transportation infrastructure
  • Strengthen US Customs Port of Battle Creek
  • Strengthen community and regional quality of life as part of the business climate
  • Promote short and long term workforce development
Facilitate job creation, retention and capital investment
  • Operate a business retention program
  • Conduct business and investor attraction
  • Identify opportunities and impediments for business and employment growth
  • Strengthen Direct Investment Fund portfolio
  • Market Battle Creek as an investment opportunity
Organizational development and continuous improvement
  • Professional training and development for staff
  • Improve information and data management system for clients, projects and materials
Establish downtown Battle Creek as a vibrant, livable urban center
  • Increase private investment in downtown
  • Maintain foot traffic in downtown
  • Leverage existing talent in food protection, food production and consumer product marketing
  • Further establish downtown as a destination

The City of Battle Creek enjoyed another strong year in corporate private investments as several major expansions and new company locations were announced. Site Selection Magazine 2013 Governor's Cup ranked Battle Creek sixth in the nation among areas less than 200,000 population for major economic development projects completed.

The successes in 2013-2014 include:
  • Over the last two years, projects announced or underway represented over $400 million in private investment and 2,300 new jobs, bringing wealth creation opportunities for residents of the Battle Creek community and region.
  • Downtown Battle Creek welcomed seven new businesses and celebrated the opening of the Battle Creek Area Math & Science Center in its new, state-of-the-art location.
  • Battle Creek Unlimited continued to pursue redevelopment of the Heritage Tower, hoping to move this game-changing development forward by 2015.
  • The International Food Protection Training Institute is on the fourth cohort of its signature program the Fellowship in Food Protection, bringing regulators to Battle Creek from around the United States. The Institute is building and administering the training infrastructure for the nation's Integrated Food Safety System.
  • Staff testified to the National Commission on the Future Structure of the Air Force.  The commission issued an unqualified opinion on the importance of the Air National Guard in the nation's capabilities, notably focusing on the Battle Creek Cyber Range.

During a year of continued economic recovery and growth, we witnessed an increase in private investment and building expansion projects citywide representing total investments of more than $42 million and 370 new jobs. This is a great celebration in honor of Battle Creek Unlimited's 40th anniversary.

The successes in 2011-2012 include:
  • Downtown welcomed three new businesses, four business relocations and five investment projects.  Over 50 new jobs were added downtown and construction began on the $14 million Battle Creek Area Math & Science Center.
  • Over the past three years, downtown attracted a total of $87 million in private investment, filled 470,000 square feet of real estate and added 1,000 employees, including 200 new jobs. 
  • An initiative to retain a flying mission (C-27J) at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base led to formation of the Citizens to Save the C-27J and a campaign bringing widespread knowledge of the favorable attributes of the aircraft and its indisputable value to the nation.
  • Battle Creek Unlimited Direct Investment Fund continued to be a valuable asset.  A new outreach program has been developed and resources are being identified to provide information about the fund to surrounding locations outside the City of Battle Creek.

This year brought Battle Creek abundant opportunity, in contrast to a worldwide economic crisis.  Battle Creek's competitive manufacturing stance sustains a compelling edge in job creation. In addition, the downtown transformation continues to evolve through the blending of four structural pillars (education, food protection, private investment and streetscape enhancements), as investment in downtown thrives.

The successes in 2009-2010 include:
  • Expansions in Fort Custer Industrial Park created 65 new jobs, while the TODA America, Inc. investment expects to create 57 more.   
  • During the first year of an international aerospace marketing strategy we received intelligence about the sector on a global basis.  
  • Receiving $1 million in federal grant money, the International Food Protection Training Institute trained hundreds of state and local food protection professionals.  The Institute also received recognition for its efforts during the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The 157,000 square foot expansion of the W. K. Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition Research is completed.  Kellogg Company announced its long-term lease for office space which will bring an additional 600 employees downtown.  Covance announced its plans to create a nutritional chemistry and food safety laboratory downtown with an investment of $14 million and new jobs.

Battle Creek saw remarkable investment activity with over 13 major projects completed citywide.  Site Selection Magazine 2012 Governor's Cup ranked Battle Creek second in the nation among areas less than 200,000 population for major economic development projects completed.  The streetscape project was recognized as Project of the Year - Quality of Life category from the American Public Works Association Michigan Chapter for the Michigan Avenue project. In addition, Covance and Battle Creek Unlimited were presented Best New Partnership, Merger or Acquisition award at the Nutraceutical Business and Technology Awards.

The successes in 2012-2013 include:
  • For the third consecutive year, Fort Custer Industrial Park saw an increase in private investment, building expansions and job creation, with investment and job growth numbers each jumping 400% from the previous year.
  • Culminating nearly one year of outreach to a proposed 14-county service area, BC CAL KAL Inland Port Development Corporation received federal approval for Foreign-Trade Zone 43 to reorganize into an Alternative Site Framework.
  • The BC CAL KAL Executive Director served on the board of directors for the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones.
  • Downtown Battle Creek's momentum continue to build as more people, investment and businesses are filling the central business district.  Over the last four years, downtown attracted over $88 million in private investment, 23 new businesses have opened and an additional 1,100 employees.

Corporate commitment to Battle Creek is evident and enduring in Fort Custer Industrial Park with the addition of more than 100 jobs. An emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education is growing in the Battle Creek area schools.  Physical enhancements continued in the downtown to ensure a clean, safe, and accessible environment.

The successes in 2010-2011 include:
  • DENSO Manufacturing Michigan celebrated 25 years in Battle Creek, manufacturing automotive heating and cooling systems within a 1.3 million square foot facility.  DENSO is one of Battle Creek's largest employers with a workforce of 1,700.
  • Applications filed for tax abatement certificates for personal property, real property or both totaled an estimated $56,122,000 in capital investment in the City of Battle Creek.
  • The Veterans Affairs Medical Center is now home to a stone fountain once located in the Fort Custer Industrial Park.  The founain dates back to the presence of the Civilian Conservation Corps in Fort Custer.  It graces a garden area for hospital residents and their families to enjoy.  
  • The City of Battle Creek received a $3.8 million grant for bus/train station renovations.
  • Two-and-one-half years into a downtown transformation, significant changes are backed by technology and industry, with an emphasis on food innovation and protection.
  • Covance completed a $14 million nutritional chemistry and food safety laboratory in downtown Battle Creek.  It has more than 55 employees.

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