Precision Edge of Boyne City is hoping to secure a grant that will help it both expand its operation and increase a skilled worker base for the manufacturing sector.
If approved, the grant would help pay for manufacturing equipment and educational opportunities for those interested in working in the field of manufacturing.
“We are preparing applications on behalf of Charlevoix County to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) for the community development block grant (CDBG) funds for Precision Edge to expand their operation,” said Sara Christensen of the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA). “The CDBG money is U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding that’s allocated to each state. The funding goal is to support projects that will retain and create new jobs.”
Christensen gave Charlevoix County Commissioners an overview of her group’s mission during a public hearing on the community development block grant on Wednesday July 24 during the county commission’s regular meeting.
“We are a non-profit economic development organization that covers a four-county territory from Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet up to Cheboygan counties,” she said. “Our mission is to help companies and communities create and retain quality jobs for local residents.”
According to Christensen, the NLEA has been working with Precision Edge in Boyne City to complete a grant application that will help the company expand its operation. Precision Edge manufactures surgical instruments.
In the grant application, Precision Edge intends to retain its current level of 38 employees and will eventually create 59 new jobs over the next two years.
“They will invest $2.7 million in primarily machinery and equipment to expand their operations,” Christensen said. “They are applying for $350,000 in CDBG funds to help pay for training for these new employees. There is no county match for this project, all the investment comes from the company.”
Christensen said the NLEA not only helps the community apply for the grant on behalf of the company but it will act as the grant administrator over the two-year period.
Precision Edge Operations Manager Todd Fewins said the funding will pass through his company to North Central Michigan College in an effort to create a mobile CNC manufacturing lab.
“That will be used not only for industry in the area but also going to the high schools and help training on the manufacturing technology,” he said. “This is a model that we found in northeastern Wisconsin, basically we’re duplicating that model to use as a training aid at the high school level and for industry.”
Fewins said the funding will also be used to train those previously mentioned 59 employees to build surgical tools.
“I think the key to this is obviously not only training people but getting kids interested in manufacturing again because … that’s important for us because we plan to be at 150 employees over the next five to seven years,” he said. “The only way for us to get to that point is to be able to train the students coming out of the high schools.”
“The other intention of this lab is to be used as a marketing tool at the high school level and different events in the community to gain interest in manufacturing,” Fewins added.
Christensen said the MEDC was particularly keen on the proposed plan for this block grant.
“MEDC is really excited to see how all this works out and hopefully it can be duplicated around the state,” she said.