Bates Township awarded MDOT economic grant

LANSING—The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has awarded a state transportation economic development fund grant that will support 18 new jobs in Bates Township, according to a news release from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office on March 27. The Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) Category A grant totaling $198,500 will leverage more than $475,000 in private investment.
    The Willis Lumber Co. LLC, located on Larson Road, north of U.S. 2 in Bates Township, produces hardwood finished lumber, cants for pallets, and railroad ties. The company is planning to purchase $200,000 of new equipment to increase the capacity of their sawmill. The investment will result in the creation of 12 new jobs.
    Located just south of the Willis Lumber Co. on Larson Road, the Willis Family Maple Farm LLC is a maple sap processing facility. The company plans to expand its production to new items such as maple cream and maple butter. The company is investing $275,000 in a new building and equipment to accommodate the production of the new products. The investment will result in the creation six full-time equivalent positions.
    “I am pleased that we were able to work with these companies and our local partners to support the transportation needs of the companies’ expansions,” Whitmer said. “This underscores the link between transportation investments and economic development. As a state, we need to invest more in our roads so that employees have safe routes to work and companies have unimpeded access to markets.”
    Larson Road, the only roadway access to both businesses, is currently a gravel road subject to seasonal weight restrictions. This limits the amount of raw materials and finished product both businesses can transport for several weeks each spring.
    In order to address this restriction, and accommodate the expansion plans of both companies, the Iron County Road Commission will widen and reconstruct the roadway to all-season standards. The work will include a new asphalt surface, gravel shoulders and drainage improvements.

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