EDC lands manufacturer for industrial park

In less than two weeks, Wayne County announced its second new employer at Midwest Industrial Park.

Viking Group, Inc., a Michigan-based manufacturer and distributor of fire protection solutions, has announced it is buying 40 acres in Richmond to build a new manufacturing facility for its subsidiary, MV Pipe LLC.

The company expects to create 111 new jobs in the new Phase III of the industrial park.

Construction is set to begin this year, with expected completion in 2024.

Economic Development Corp. of Wayne County previously referred to the opportunity as “Project Delta” to maintain confidentiality while the potential $63 million investment was being finalized.

The EDC learned about the company’s interest in the Hoosier state last June through a lead from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. Staff began supplying information, and optimism grew as negotiations progressed.

At the EDC’s regular monthly meeting on Feb. 6, its board authorized President Valerie Shaffer to sell the land for approximately $500,000.

At that time, Shaffer said an announcement was eminent, and the news was released Friday.

“We are thrilled to be bringing a new manufacturing facility to Indiana and to be partnering with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County, and the City of Richmond,” said James Golinveaux, president and CEO of Viking Group, Inc., in a news release.

The Richmond facility will be instrumental in introducing its new Fendium pipe to the U.S. market, Golinveaux said.

“Fendium is a game-changing product in the fire protection industry, offering advanced corrosion-resistant properties, making it a highly attractive option for a wide range of applications,” Golinveaux said.

Golinveaux likely knows something about pipes: He has 40 years of experience in the fire protection industry and was elected vice chair of the National Fire Sprinkler Association last year.

Viking’s website says it leads its industry in quality and innovation “because fire protection is all we do, and our single focus is to support and enhance the efforts of independent fire sprinkler contractors.”

The company is based in Caledonia, Michigan, which is about 15 miles southeast of Grand Rapids.

State and local officials expressed gratitude regarding Wayne County’s announcement.

“We are excited to welcome MV Pipe LLC to Indiana, as they will create high-paying jobs and help advance Indiana’s flourishing manufacturing industry,” said IEDC Chief Strategy Officer Ann Lathrop in the release. “The state’s workforce and Hoosiers’ skillsets will benefit from their presence in the state.”

Based on MV Pipe’s job creation plans, the IEDC will invest as much as $1.5 million in the form of incentive-based tax credits and as much as $67,500 in training grants.

These tax credits are performance-based, meaning the company is eligible to claim incentives once Hoosiers are hired and trained.

Local incentives include a cash grant and tax abatements for the project, which will go through the approval process at a later date.

“I want to thank the Viking team, the EDC of Wayne County, and the IEDC for their diligent work,” said Richmond Mayor Dave Snow in the release, calling Viking “an established and respected company.”

“This is another great example of a leading manufacturer putting their vote of confidence in Richmond!” Snow wrote. “Make no mistake, we are rising!”

Richmond’s MV Pipe facility will feature state-of-the-art technology and will be designed to meet the highest environmental standards, the release said.

Viking’s announcement comes just days after the EDC’s Jan. 30 announcement that Liberation Labs plans to build its first commercial-scale biomanufacturing facility in Midwest Industrial Park.

Officials for the alternative protein maker say they plan to invest $115 million and create 45 well-paying manufacturing jobs.

Less than six weeks into 2023, EDC of Wayne County already has surpassed the number of new jobs that it announced in 2022 as part of major investments.

Last year, Shaffer said the EDC assisted with five investment projects with a total capital investment of $44.1 million. Those projects are to add a total of 139 new jobs and retain 107 jobs.

Even more good news might be in the works.

Shaffer said that ongoing negotiations with representatives for three projects are going well.

Project Thomas, a rail transload operator, could bring a $35 million investment that adds 30 new jobs.

Two local businesses’ potential retention/expansion efforts also have been given code names.

Project Alma could be a $150 million investment with 50 new jobs, and Project Keystone could be a $27 million investment with 48 new jobs.

In addition, EDC staff are working with five other current local businesses on potential expansion plans that have not yet been publicly described.

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Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.