Owosso companies to expand, create jobs

August 26, 2010 3:47:19 PM PDT
(08/26/10) -- A local community is gearing up for a big economic boost.Two Owosso companies plan to expand, thanks to MEGA tax credits from the state.

The expansions are expected to create hundreds of new jobs.

Covenant Eyes and Wausaukee Composites were both awarded the credits. The tax breaks are given to companies that plan to hire new employees.

In this case, both businesses are looking to help turn Owosso's economy around.

Officials at Covenant Eyes, a locally-owned Internet accountability and filtering firm, hope to add 139 workers. The company will also invest $3.7 million in Owosso over the next five years.

MEGA tax credits will help Wausaukee Composites, a manufacturing company, retain 132 jobs and add 156 more. The Wisconsin-based company plans to invest up to $1.9 million to expand and renovate its facility in Owosso Township.

Unemployment in Shiawassee County currently stands at 13.9 percent.

Brent Jones from the county's Economic Development Partnership says the expansions are a good sign that the tough times are getting better for the area.

"For a community of this size, that's a huge impact. It's not only for Owosso, but for the surrounding townships, for the other cities in the area. Those people are all going to get an opportunity to pursue those jobs," he said.

"We have seen some difficult times with unemployment. This is going to be definitely a big boom to the local economy."

Covenant Eyes and Wausaukee Composites are hiring now.

"It's an exciting time for us, absolutely exciting time for us," Wausaukee Plant Manager Don Ranville said.

Things are turning around at Wausaukee Composites in Owosso Township. Last year, tough economic times forced the company to make tough cuts.

"We made almost a 50 percent reduction in our staffing here," Ranville said.

This year, business has picked up and every one of the plant's workers are back on the job along with dozens of new employees.

That MEGA tax credit will help the Wisconsin-based manufacturer expand in Michigan and hire 156 additional workers.

"It's nice to be involved with a community that is doing hiring right now," said Ranville.

Convenant Eyes also expects to grow using state tax incentives. "It's really been a blessing for us," Vice President of Technology Scott Hammersley said.

The company has stood strong in the midst of Michigan's economic meltdown.

"Our company has continued to grow over the years in spite of the downturn in the economy."

Hammersley said the company looks to become even stronger with more than 130 new employees. "The money that we get from the tax credits are going to allow us to bring in additional software engineers, sales people, customer service people. So it's going to be a great benefit to us and to the community."

It's good news for those businesses and very good news for the local economy.

"We've got people who go out to lunch every day. They spend money at the local restaurants. They're buying groceries, they are paying taxes. So for each job that comes in here, it is also bringing additional jobs into the community as well," Hammersley noted.