$217,038 Awarded to Six St. Clair County Companies for Skilled Trades Training

Skilled Trades Training Fund (STTF) grants were announced today by the Michigan Workforce Development Agency and we are pleased to share that grant funds have been awarded to six companies in St. Clair County, totaling $217,038.     

Grants awarded to employers through the Talent Investment Agency (TIA) are used to assist in training, developing and retaining current employees and individuals to be hired.  Training is short-term and customized to meet employee skills requirements for hiring needs and to help close skills gaps for existing employees. 

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Equipment Distributors Investing Nearly $2 Million in Industrial Build in Ira Township

St. Clair County, Michigan

Equipment Distributors, a supplier of automotive tools and equipment for the auto repair industry is expanding from Shelby Township to 10099 Radiance Drive in Ira Township of St. Clair County.  The company is investing nearly $2 million in a two-phase new construction build, beginning with 14,000 square-feet during Phase I; and adding an additional 14,000 square-feet in Phase II.  The facility will employ approximately 20 employees.     

Equipment Distributors which specializes in wheel alignment and automotive lifts, offers full auto lift support including ALI safety inspections, maintenance, repair and service parts for their flagship line of two post lifts, four post lifts, inground lifts, mobile column lifts, short & mid-rise lifts and pit lifts.  These lifts are commonly recognized in automotive garages and shops and used to raise vehicles and keep them suspended for maintenance, repairs, wheel alignments and tire changes.   

“I’m very pleased that the Ira Township Board of Trustees voted 3-0 to approve a 12-year property tax abatement. This was an important incentive to the company and helped us to remain competitive with other communities that would offer a similar incentive to attract the project,” said Ira Township Supervisor, Jim Endres, Jr. “We are excited about new growth in our industrial park and are looking forward to Equipment Distributors breaking ground on their project.”

“Equipment Distributors is excited to be a part of the IRA township Community and plans to bring good old fashion Hard Working American values with it,” said President, Steven Hughes.


About Equipment Distributors, Inc.
Equipment Distributors is a supplier of automotive tools and equipment for the auto repair industry. We're wheel alignment and automotive lift specialists.  https://equipmentdistributors.biz/

About EDA of St. Clair County
The Economic Development Alliance (EDA) of St. Clair County is a private non-profit organization that provides general purpose economic development services throughout St. Clair County.  EDA offers a wide variety of services involving business recruitment and business retention and expansion with the overall goal of growing the local economy and enhancing the quality of life for residents in St. Clair County.  The EDA of St. Clair County is supported by a membership of over 150 businesses from the private & public sector passionate about supporting community and economic development.   www.edascc.com  


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PTM Corporation of St. Clair County named Michigan Women’s Business of The Year


PTM Named “Michigan WBE of the Year”


Photo Courtesy:  PTM Website  
Nika Russell-Hess, Donna Russell-Kuhr, Dannielle Russell and Gina Russell pictured from the left

St.Clair County, Michigan – October 5, 2017  

PTM Corporation, located in Ira Township (St. Clair County) has been named as Michigan’s Women Business Enterprise (WBE) of The Year by the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council.  Awardees are selected from a pool of more than 900 certified woman-owned, woman-managed businesses statewide.    

A women-owned business is defined as being at least 51% owned, capitalized, operated and controlled by a woman or group of woman.  The business must be a “for-profit” business which typically resides in the United States or one of its territories. 

Donna Russell-Kuhr, Nika Russell-Hess, Dannielle Russell and Gina Russell all deserve this achievement as business leaders and community minded individuals here in Ira Township, their corporation has been tremendous to work with over the years,” said James J.Endres, Jr, supervisor of Ira Township.  “ The entire Ira Township board of Trustee’s congratulates them and PTM on winning WBE of the year.”

Founded in 1970 by Charles T. Russell, PTM Corporation is now owned and operated by Mr. Russell’s four daughters (Donna, Nika, Gina, Dannielle).  Donna Russell-Kuhr, President and Co-Owner of PTM Corporation, shared that among the many challenges the company has faced in a highly competitive industry, one significant challenge was beating doubts that the four sisters would be able to sustain and  thrive in what was traditionally a “man’s business.”     

“PTM is proud to be a certified WBE by the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council, we are tremendously honored to be named as its Michigan WBE of the year. We are proud of our company’s diversity, and proud to support other Women’s Business Enterprises, as well as many other community programs and events," said Donna Russell-Kuhr. 

Donna Russell-Kuhr was also recently named President of the Economic Development Alliance (EDA) of St. Clair County.  This position has traditionally been filled by a man for several years.  The EDA ’t is pleased that Donna was nominated and chosen by its Board of Directors as our new President via our annual meeting held in September.

“Donna is very involved in the community and passionate about its success.  She cares deeply not just about business, but more importantly about people.  You can’t take a plant tour without Donna proudly introducing you to nearly every employee she passes by; and often with a story about them, their family or their work ethic.  Economic Development is about relationship building, and so is Donna, so she’s going to be a fantastic President during her term,” said Dan Casey, CEO of the EDA.     

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I-69 Thumb Region Selects Smart Shelf of St. Clair County as Winner of the Catapult Business Plan Competition

Seven businesses vied for the top spot in the 2017 Catapult Business Competition, with Smart Shelf LLC, an incubation client at The Underground Business Incubator in St. Clair County winning first-place and taking home the $5,000 grand prize.

The final round of competition was held as part of the 6th Annual Regional Summit, hosted by the I-69 Thumb Region at the Lapeer Country Club. Cash prizes of $3,000 and $1,000, respectively, were awarded to second-place winner Town to Town Gourmet Pastries (Shiawassee County) and third-place finisher Thumb Roast Coffee (Sanilac County).

Each of the seven competing businesses advanced to the finals after winning the county-level contests. The I-69 Thumb Region includes Shiawassee, Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron and Tuscola counties.

The other contestants were: Happy Little Greens Farm (Genesee County); Simply Enjoyable Snacks (Lapeer County); Imperial Sauces (Tuscola County); and Kyle’s Kindling (Huron County).

Judging the final round were: Dom Holmes, Manager of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Automation Alley; Neal Bishop, Area Manager, Local Government and Community Affairs, International Transmission Company; and Peggy Nolde, Director, Genesee County Equalization Board.

“It’s always exciting to be part of the small business competitions in our region such as GreenLight Port Huron and Catapult.  It's even more rewarding when we see our local competitors win additional funding and validation for their business concepts outside of region," said Tina Frazer, EDA Marketing Manager and Moderator of the Regional Catapult competition.  "There were several great business pitches from I-69 Thumb Region entrepreneurs at yesterday's event.  In my eyes, they are all winners and I hope they continue to work toward product launch or growing their small business ventures."  

Director of Entrepreneurial Services at The Underground, Quentin Bishop, added how proud he is to have Smart Shelf representing both the county and the new regional  business incubator.  "Smart Shelf is one of five clients in the incubation program that have an advisory board wrapped around them to assist them with their business venture.  We take the incubation process very seriously at The Underground, and work hard to help our clients reach milestones, overcome obstacles and obtain funding."  For more information about The Underground space or programs, visit:  www.startunderground.com        

The competition was created in 2016 to help entrepreneurs and small-business owners reach the next stage in growing their businesses. The prize money is designed to help winning contestants retain and grow Michigan businesses by providing capital to launch, expand production or hire staff.

The half-day regional summit was also used to recap major projects and successes of 2017, and feature panel discussions on development tools and incentives, and housing development in the seven-county region.

The I-69 Thumb Region is a partnership of the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership, Flint & Genesee Chamber, Lapeer Development Corporation, Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County, Sanilac & Huron County Economic Development Corporation and Tuscola County Economic Development Corporation.

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Wright Plastic Products Company Investing $3.275 Million and Adding 19 Jobs in St. Clair, Michigan

St. Clair, Michigan  

Wright Plastic Products Company plans to add 14,400 square feet to its St. Clair Facility, investing $3.275 million and creating an additional 19 jobs in St. Clair County, Michigan.  The company, which specializes in plastic injection molding, produces a variety of custom plastics parts in the automotive, recreational vehicles, marine, and consumer markets. 

A $160,000 performance-based grant has been approved by Michigan Strategic Fund Board (MSF) a division of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).   Michigan was selected over a competing site in Tennessee (where the company has a location).  The City of St. Clair has offered a “staff, financial, or economic commitment to the project” in the form of a tax abatement estimated to be worth $143,000.  These incentives will help offset overall costs of doing the project in Michigan.   

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$121,000 Gatekeeper Grant Awarded to EDA for The Underground Business Incubator & Service Center

The Michigan Strategic Fund has approved a $121,000 two-year Gatekeeper Grant to the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County.  The EDA will use the funds to hire a manager for The Underground Incubator and Business Service Center which is located in the basement of the Sperry’s Building at 301 Huron Ave. in Port Huron.

“Gatekeeper Grants play an important role in building a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem across our state,” said Fred Molnar, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at MEDC. “The Gatekeepers that have been funded to date have been highly successful in connecting entrepreneurs with the resources available to them, and we’re looking forward to seeing similar results in Port Huron.”

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I-69 Thumb Region Announces 2017 Catapult Business Competition - Call For Entries

The I-69 Thumb Region, a seven county partnership, today announced the launch of the I-69 Thumb Region’s Catapult Your Business Competition.  This unique competition is both local and regional.  Each of the seven counties in Region 6 will host a local competition, and the winners will move on to the regional competition.  There will be cash prizes for the local and regional winners totaling $30,000.  The competition has been expanded upon a version held last year specifically for Craft Food & Beverage businesses.

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Blue Meets Green Announces New Regional Priorities

Port Huron, MI –May 2  2017---   With feedback from 90 stakeholders at a half-day retreat held in February, Blue Meets Green (BMG) has announced their fourth round of regional priorities for St. Clair County.  Among 13 possible new initiatives considered and evaluated by the group, the top 7 new priorities will be;

  1. Michigan Stage Festival
  2. A new regional brand and communication strategy
  3. Launch a coding school or boot camp
  4. A new Main Library in Port Huron
  5. County-wide business plan competition for K-12 students
  6. A new pre-seed investment fund for business start-ups
  7. A Transloading & Crossdock facility
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Emerge Fund Winners - $20,000 Awarded to Area Entrepreneurs

St. Clair County, Michigan – The Underground business incubator and business service center is awarding a combined $20,000 in entrepreneurial assistance to four area entrepreneurs as a result of an Emerge Fund pitch night held on Wednesday, April 12, in the new facility located below Sperry’s Moviehouse.   

During the event, a business pitch was made by each of the four small businesses in front of a review panel; along with other invited spectators, including Community Capital Club (C3) members to determine eligibility for emerge funds.

We are pleased to congratulate all four companies on an outstanding job and approval of emerge grant funding and acceptance into the Underground virtual incubation program. 

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US Farathane, LLC is expanding in Port Huron, Investing over $15 Million and adding 205 Jobs

US Farathane, LLC - is a global automotive supplier that supplies to the automotive industry, including OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers. 

“The company has been awarded several new contracts to manufacture interior and under-hood components and plans to expand two of its Michigan subsidiaries,” said CFO of US Farathane, Jim Gregory.  As a result, US Farathane Port Huron plans to lease an additional facility in the city of Port Huron, investing up to $15,065,000 over the next 3 years and creating 205 jobs.

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