Economic growth continued in Livingston County in 2017; companies are continuing to grow and invest in the region. Notably, Ann Arbor SPARK had the opportunity to assist Thai Summit with their Howell expansion project, connecting two separate facilities into one large operation. This project garnered local support from the City of Howell by bringing in over $7 million in private capital investment and 33 new job commitments. In addition, SPARK provided assistance to TG Fluids with their Brighton expansion project which brought in over $12 million in capital investment and 35 new job commitments.
We welcomed Aberrant Ales to downtown Howell, a new craft brewery with delicious brews and a fantastic atmosphere, providing assistance on a project that transformed a vacant space into a lively amenity. In aggregate, our team worked with projects that committed to over 79 new positions in Livingston County and yielded over $19 million in new private investment.
Our Livingston team has developed strategies to build on our progress in the coming year. One of the opportunities we believe is a priority is talent- attracting and retaining talent and fulfilling the needs of local employers. Talent and place play a fundamental role in the continued growth of companies. We will continue to work with Michigan Works! Southeast, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and the Livingston Educational Services Agency to continue strengthening our local talent pipeline.
The past year was a banner year for our local talent initiatives and 2018 will build on that growth. We continued to engage companies in the Flint busing program, leveraging funds from the state’s Community Ventures fund to support local talent needs. We also launched our first healthcare roundtable, which was an excellent opportunity for a talent discussion between the local healthcare industry and training providers. Perhaps the most exciting new talent initiative was the addition of Carrie Bonofiglio, our new Talent Awareness Coordinator, who has helped to assist with the local implementation of the state’s MI Bright Future program. We are incredibly excited about new partnerships between the schools and industry and will continue to strengthen these opportunities that build our talent pipeline.
In 2018, we expect to see continued growth in the manufacturing sector in Livingston. We also have our eye on the healthcare sector, as all three major healthcare systems in the county are currently in the process of making major investments. Though we have not traditionally worked with hospitals and businesses in the healthcare industry, our healthcare roundtable was the first focused initiative to address challenges in that sector. We will continue watching this industry closely to better understand how we might be able to assist with growth.
We also underwent some changes on our team – we welcomed Pinckney native Marcia Gebarowski to work as our director of business development for Livingston County, after doing economic development for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for nearly 10 years. We also thanked Anna Zinkel for her work in Livingston County as she began graduate school at the University of Michigan this fall.
As we embark upon another year of projects in partnership with the Economic Development Council of Livingston County, I want to thank our Board Members for their dedication to economic development in the region. Their commitment of time and resources is what continues to drive the county forward. Ann Arbor SPARK is looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish during 2018.