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FOWLERVILLE, MI-Meridian Automotive Systems Inc. officials hope to bring a 250,000=sf, $43-million facility to Livingston County by January 2006. The automotive supplier, which specializes in front and rear bumper assemblies, says it will break ground within two months on the new facility on 23 acres just west of the village.

Officials believe the plant will bring 250 jobs to Fowlerville. Tax incentives from the village and state money have helped push the project. On Monday, the Fowlerville village council agreed to exempt the company from paying half of its taxes for 12 years. On Tuesday, the state agreed to give the village and company $2.2 million to build sewer lines, help pay for a road under construction that would link the facility to the village and make other improvements. Even with the exemption, the addition of the Meridian facility will pay about $400,000 a year in taxes, says Jim Hall, chairman of the Fowlerville Local Development Finance Authority.

The 23-acre parcel is in the southwest corner of the village with nearby access to Interstate 96 and a railroad line. Fowlerville officials have been trying to get a major operation to the site, which is now just covered in tall grass and weeds, for years.

The company also has expressed interest in partnering with the Fowlerville Community Schools system and offering tours and training to students once it’s operating, Boehm says. Company officials say the jobs will range from technical to entry-level in skill.

Meridian will be the third major automotive supplier to locate in the Fowlerville area. Chassis and safety systems manufacturer TRW Automotive and plastics company Asahi Thermofil currently are in the village. Meridian has 20 manufacturing plants in Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina and Michigan as well as plants in Brazil and Mexico.

The Fowlerville plant is halfway between the company’s main operations in Ionia and its Dearborn headquarters. When the Fowlerville facility becomes operational, workers will create, assemble, paint and ship the bumper systems to automotive companies including Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp.

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