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MATTAWAN, MI-MPI Research has made a large announcement for the state, it plans to more than double its current one-million-sf facility, and is going to lease another 50,000 sf in two buildings in neighboring Kalamazoo, MI. For its $330 million plan, and its promise to add 3,300 new jobs to the area, the state is giving the company an $86 million tax credit for the next 15 years.

Pfizer, the massive drug company which has its manufacturing and animal health divisions here in West Michigan, is donating the two Kalamazoo buildings to the city. Ron Kitchens, CEO of economic development organization Southwest Michigan First, says the Pfizer buildings were excess wet labs. “The city is going to lease the buildings to MPI for $1 per year,” he says. Kalamazoo is also contributing $150,000 for environmental due diligence and infrastructure analysis toward the use of the buildings.

MPI focuses on the safety evaluation and toxicology needs of the biotechnology, medical device, chemical, agricultural and related industries. Kitchens says getting the company to expand here, instead of at the firm’s facilities in State College, PA or China, was a tremendous coup for the region. “We saw six years ago that we needed to diversify our businesses,” he says. “We’ve been very successful in implementing a life science incubator here. We’ve had 24 companies go through the system, with eight companies now placed in their own facilities throughout the area.”

In the past few months, there have been about 4,000 new jobs announced for the area, from companies such as AT&T, Kaiser Aluminum, Fabri-Kal Corp. and K&M Machine Fabricating releasing expansion plans. “Also, these MPI jobs will be for lab jobs, science-type jobs, not industrial,” Kitchens says.

Pfizer’s donation of property, at E. Lovell and Portage streets, is contingent upon final agreements between Pfizer, the city and MPI. Kitchens says the only thing that Pfizer is getting in return for its buildings is “a tax write-off.”

In a statement, MPI officials said that the agreements should be finalized by the end of the year, and the company will then begin renovations to the downtown buildings. “We are personally delighted that, as a company, we can build on our Midwestern heritage to further strengthen our local economy,” the statement read. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has announced more tax incentive packages, being given to BAE Systems in Sterling Heights (for a $58.4 million redevelopment for the defense company), Von Weise Inc. in Eaton Rapids, the Pinnacle Race Track in Huron Township, and a redevelopment project in Grand Rapids, along with the MPI designations. Combined, the projects are expected to create and retain more than 9,000 jobs and involve about $468.3 million in new capital investment in the state.

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