Business Incentives & Resources
A brief summary of county, local, state, and federal programs is provided. The incentives section also contains helpful resources and links. For more information, contact the Berrien County Community Development Department (BCCDD) at 269-983-7111, ext. 8617 or download our brochure, 10 Reasons to do Business in Michigan's Great Southwest (PDF).
A brownfield is an environmentally contaminated property. Through the Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act, a developer of contaminated property can be reimbursed for eligible environmental activities that they paid for the investment in building demolition, renovation or improvements, machinery and equipment. In addition, cleanup costs are now 50% lower for Industrial and commercial properties.
Berrien County is a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. This means that the county is able to implement brownfield plans for properties on behalf of a municipality. Also, properties that are blighted or obsolete may also qualify for capture of these same taxes under the Core Communities Initiative. Contact BCCDD at 269-983-7111, ext. 8617 for more information.
Industrial Facilities Tax Abatement
Industrial facilities (including high-technology facilities), machinery and equipment are eligible to receive an exemption of real and personal property taxes for up to 12 years. This tax savings is realized when the company pays its Industrial Facilities Tax (IFT). Berrien County Economic Development administers tax abatements to industrial facilities in the county at no charge.
For obsolete machinery or plants, a 100% property tax exemption is granted on the value of the improvement. For new plant an/or machinery and equipment, the tax is half the local property tax millage rate, plus the 6-mill statewide education tax, reducing the property tax by almost 50%. For a speculative building, the local government must declare a manufacturing facility it as such. Then, costs are eligible for a property tax reduction by almost 50%. Since tax abatements are time-sensitive and procedure-oriented, it is best to contact either Cornerstone Alliance at 269-925-6100 or Southwest Michigan Economic Growth Alliance at 269-683-1833 for more information prior to any commencement.
Berrien County has renaissance zones in Benton Harbor and Benton Charter Township. Renaissance zones are areas that are virtually tax-free for any business or resident located in one of the zones. Some Renaissance Zones are currently phasing out. Please contact the BCCDD to find out about a location you are interested in. Call BCCDD at 269-983-7111, ext. 8617 for more information on Renaissance Zones.
Other Revolving Loan Funds
Five local municipalities, Benton Charter Township, City of Buchanan, Village of Galien, City of Niles and Village of Stevensville, offer revolving loan funds. A municipality can provide revolving loans for a specific project to further enhance the equity position of a company with a financial institution. Please check with each municipality for availability.
Cornerstone Alliance offers a revolving loan fund for new and existing businesses within Berrien County. The program targeted to small businesses that have had difficulty accessing regular credit markets. The size of these loans and the interest rate are determined on a case-by-case basis. For more information, please email Cornerstone Alliance or call 269-925-6100.
Cornerstone Alliance Small Business Services provides credit to small businesses requiring small-scale financing from $500 up to $50,000. The program provides loans to start-up, newly established, or growing for-profit small businesses in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties. For more information please visit the Cornerstone Alliance website, email Cornerstone Alliance, or call 269-925-6100.
North Berrien Community Development
North Berrien Community Development is a non-profit community-based corporation that represents the townships and cities of Coloma and Watervliet along with the townships of Bainbridge and Hagar in their efforts to influence the development and changes within the Paw-Paw Lake area. North Berrien Community Development is the resource that the community looks to for the coordination of programs that are grant or loan eligible.
It also serves as an information center for the area on projects and players that are influential in the changes within the community. Projects that are sponsored by North Berrien Community Development are varied, but do emphasize the job creation and job maintenance aspects of the community. For more information on North Berrien Community Development and its programs, please contact Chana Kniebes at 269-468-4430.
Cornerstone Alliance is a non-profit, investor-governed, economic development organization primarily focused on increasing employment opportunities, private sector capital investments and the local tax base in Michigan’s Great Southwest; with specialized business services offered in economically distressed areas. Cornerstone Alliance delivers customer-focused economic development solutions through partnerships that grow employment opportunities, increase the tax base and add to the economic vibrancy of Michigan’s Great Southwest. Our reach includes greater Berrien County for all services; some in Cass and Van Buren Counties. For more information, call Cornerstone Alliance at 269-925-6100.
Southwestern Michigan Economic Growth Alliance
Southwestern Michigan Economic Growth Alliance (SMEGA), Inc. is a nonprofit economic development corporation promoting industrial retention and the creation of jobs in the City of Niles, Niles Township, Bertrand Township, Milton Township, Howard Township, City of Buchanan, and Buchanan Township, with its primary emphasis on the Greater Niles area.
SMEGA is committed to being the primary economic development organization to ensure the retention and creation of jobs and tax base within the Greater Niles and Buchanan area. For information on incentives offered by SMEGA, contact Barkley Garrett at 269-683-1833.
Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Programs
Community Development Block Grants
Community development block grants (CDBG) are state administered federal grants that typically involve public infrastructure projects for economic and community development and housing projects. One of the main goals of the program is to provide businesses with an incentive for location or expansion that will result in permanent job creation or expansion. At least 51% of the jobs must be held by persons with low to moderate income.
To be considered for CDBG funding, a local government must prepare a submittal to MEDC. Contact MEDC at 517-373-9890 or BCCDD at 269-983-7111, ext. 8617 for more information.
Industrial Development Revenue Bonds (IDRB)
IDRBs are an attractive source of financial assistance that provides healthy, profitable firms locating or expanding in Michigan with capital cost savings stemming from the difference between taxable and tax-exempt interest rates. Public facilities which generate a revenue stream (parking structures, for instance) have traditionally been financed by municipalities through the mechanism of a tax-exempt "revenue bond." IDRBs apply this same tax-exempt finance mechanism to the "public purpose" of economic development. The governmental unit borrows money from private capital markets, secured only by the project's revenues (rather than the government's full faith and credit). Interest income earned on bonds issued by a governmental entity to finance a project for a private company which has demonstrated a good public purpose is exempt from federal and state income taxes, thereby reducing the cost of capital to an average 75% to 85% of prime. Contact the MEDC at 517-373-9890 for more information.
Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) is the state's response to interstate competition for company expansions and relocations, and the promotion of high-tech business in traditional and emerging industries (Hi-Tech MEGA) by providing a credit against the Single Business Tax. Companies engaged in manufacturing, research and development, wholesale trade or office operations are eligible to apply for the MEGA credit, while businesses in advanced computing, biotechnology, electronic device technology, engineering and laboratory testing related to product research and development, medical device technology, advanced vehicle technology, or technology that assists in the assessment or prevention of threats or damage to human health or the environment are eligible to apply for the High-Tech MEGA.
Since MEGA's application process has steps that must be completed in a specific order, companies must contact MEDC at 517-373-9808 before announcement or commencement of any project.
Economic Development Job Training
The Economic Development Job Training (EDJT) program seeks to ensure that Michigan employers have the highly trained technical workers they need to compete in the global economy. All Michigan-based companies are eligible to compete for the specialized training funds, which are channeled through community colleges, intermediate school districts, licensed proprietary schools, and trade academies.
The fund is the link between local training providers, employers, economic development organizations, local Michigan Works! agencies, MDCD, and MEDC. Monies can be used to create jobs or upgrade skills for existing workers. Grants are awarded through an annual competition each November.
Michigan Technical Education Center
Michigan has recently established Michigan Technical Education Centers (M-TEC's), one of which is located at Lake Michigan College. These centers are focused on delivering training programs in high-wage, high-skill, high- demand occupations to increase the numbers of skilled employees in these fields.
These centers are designed to promote the highest standard of partnership between business, industry and education skill-based, open-entry, individualized and self-paced training for students and businesses. For more information, contact M-TEC at Lake Michigan College at 269-926-6832.