News Story

Another Business Subsidy, Another Canceled Agreement

Company repays $62,600 in state grant money

In June 2013, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced a slate of business expansions that, with a boost from a state grant program, were predicted to add 442 jobs to Michigan’s employment rolls.

Blissfield Manufacturing, a manufacturer of heat transfer technology for the automotive industry and others, would receive a performance grant of $365,000 from the Michigan Business Development Program. The money was to be in exchange for its planned expansion, involving a $1.5 million investment and transfer of 73 jobs from Indiana to Lenawee County.

“Michigan’s comeback story is being documented almost daily with news of companies choosing to invest and grow here,” said Gov. Rick Snyder in a report on the website of WWJ-TV. “These four projects are proof positive that our reinvention strategy is working and ... fostering new economic growth and more and better jobs for our citizens.” Former legislator Bruce Caswell, a Hillsdale Republican, issued a news release congratulating the company “on its sustained growth” and said the investment would “benefit our entire region.”

Perhaps it has: Blissfield Manufacturing remains in business.

But its engagement with the MBDP program is no longer in force.

According to annual reports the MEDC filed with the Legislature, by 2016, Blissfield was in default on its agreement to make investments and create jobs, which means it had “triggered repayment.” In March of that year, the company went through an “Article 9 foreclosure” and was sold to BMG Global.

The company had by then received $125,000 of the award.

In 2016 and 2017, according to MEDC reports, it repaid the state $62,500. In the 2018 annual report issued in March, the grant agreement was listed as terminated, with the number of net new, permanent jobs created at zero.

MEDC officials declined to provide additional information about the circumstances that resulted in the company’s default and the agreement’s termination without a formal Freedom of Information Act request.

Blissfield Manufacturing did not respond to a request for comment.