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Posted: 10/05/11

Tax breaks to add 46
jobs to Romeo area

Observer Staff Writer
      Tax breaks for two local companies producing automotive parts have been approved by village trustees.
       The Village of Romeo Board of Trustees approved of extending a 10-year Michigan Tool and Die Renaissance Recovery Zone by five more years for Sharp Model.
       The board also unanimously approved of a 12-year Industrial Facilities Tax (IFT) exemption for Stant USA that will create 34 jobs.
       Both votes were taken at the Sept. 19 regular meeting.
       Justin Robinson, associate planner with the Macomb County Planning and Economic Development department, said the state is permitting a maximum of five-year extensions for the recovery zone companies.
       The village supported the recovery zone in December 2006. Robinson said the program, created by the state, was designed to assist the tool and die industry to reinvent itself.
       He said it allows companies to work collaboratively and take on contracts they may not be able to handle individually.
       Companies receive tax abatements from the Michigan Business Tax, the state education tax, personal and real property taxes and local income tax for belonging to these zones.
       The money saved is intended for reinvestment in order to compete for new business and create jobs.
       "It's taken (Sharp) five years to get to where they are today, to just begin the diversification effort and find some success," Robinson said.
       In a letter, Sharp Model told the board 100 percent of its savings have been invested in marketing to new non-automotive customers and into technology.
       It has spent over $4 million dollars since receiving the benefits, and has acquired loans for technology training, software and engineering.
       Roger Walker, president of Sharp Model, said the company anticipates the addition of 12 new jobs to its staff of 82 after enduring bankruptcies and the recession.
       "We have diversified, we reinvested in equipment, training, added jobs and we're starting to stabilize," he said. "We still need to invest in high-tech equipment (and) training."
       Romeo lifted a moratorium in 2009 that stopped it from accepting new recovery zones, but the state is already preventing the establishment of new zones.
       A 12-year exemption
       Jennifer Dedenbach of Stant USA said its $1.58 million IFT request comes out of acquiring two new programs for the company that will begin in January and August of next year.
       The personal property exemption would be for purchasing new machinery and equipment for fuel filler pipe applications.
       Village trustees had positive reactions to the number of new jobs the IFT was expected to bring in.
       "Usually we get three or four, or five or six," said Trustee Margaret Feldhus.
       Dedenbach said the business, located on Powell Road, expects to approach the village for additional parking needs.

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