Custom injection molder Quality Assured Plastics Inc. wants to build a second plant in Lawrence, Mich., but will not proceed until a controversial water tower is built in the village's industrial park.
Quality Assured Chief Financial Officer Annette Crandall said a second water tower is needed in the park to provide enough water pressure for a fire sprinkler in a new plant. The company is outgrowing its 28,000-square-foot facility, Crandall said in a telephone interview.
County commissioners recently approved a grant and loan of $150,000 to cover 30 percent of the cost of the tower's construction. At the meeting, however, some residents opposed the grant and loan, complaining that there is no assurance that public money for the tower will lead to substantial job creation. Voters rejected the tower proposal before, in 2000.
Van Buren County Commission Chairman Tom Tanczos said unless the tower is built, the industrial park will not be able to attract new business. He said in an interview that the project's fate is in the hands of the municipal government.
Lawrence President Mark Wilson said municipal officials support Quality Assured's plans. Wilson expects the village to hold a public hearing within several weeks.
Michigan Economic Development Corp. has given tentative approval for $350,000 of the water tower's cost. It will not push the project since the initiative needs to be generated locally, said spokeswoman Susan Novakoski.
``We anticipate we will get a notice of intent from the community,'' Novakoski said in a telephone interview. ``Then money can be set aside for the application.''
Crandall would not provide details of Quality Assured's expansion plans until the issue is settled.
A local newspaper report said her firm would add 35 employees and build a new plant adjoining the current one during the next few years.