CASSOPOLIS, Mich. (WNDU) — A Norway-based company is investing $140 million in southwestern Michigan and will create 70 new jobs.
Last fall, Norsk Hydro signed a letter of intent to build a state-of-the-art aluminum recycling plant in the Smart Park industrial park in Cassopolis.
Today heavy equipment was on site and earthworks were underway.
“It’s absolutely cause for celebration any time you can bring in a world industry, number one,
In your community and number two, the one who is going to invest these types of dollars and create these types of jobs,” said Cassopolis Village Director Emilie Sarratore.
When Midwest Energy and Communications built a new headquarters, it found itself with a lot of excess land.
Company officials thought the land could either be leased to someone to grow crops or used to try to grow the population in an effort to preserve the rural way of life.
17% of people who wake up in Cass County stay and work in the county. 83% work outside the county,” said Dave Allen of Midwest Energy and Communications. “People tend to get closer to where it is, they work.”
According to Allen, the fear is that those who work elsewhere will simply move elsewhere. “We are in vibrant, relevant and sustainable rural communities. Anything we can do to preserve this rural way of life is what we do. So, no, we weren’t in the business of economic development, but we are now.
Hydro is in the business of recycling aluminum for automotive, consumer and construction applications.
Hydro has plants in 40 countries but has not built a plant in the United States for over 20 years.
The Cassopolis Smart Park met many of the needs on Hydro’s select site list, including access to rail, high-speed internet and solar power.
The project also revealed a real meeting of minds.
“This company also likes small rural communities. They find that the workforce is better. They find that they like to associate and bring value to these communities. Most of their satellite businesses are in small rural communities, even in Norway,” said Cassopolis village manager Emilie Sarratore.
Plans call for the facility to be operational by the end of 2023, which could kick-start development of the park.
“Our first tenant will certainly not be the last. In fact, we have a few other very exciting projects. Too early to announce at this time, but we are working on these plans to bring them to life and bring them to fruition in 2023,” Allen said.
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