New investment, development in Battle Creek leading to more jobs

Posted at 7:45 PM, Feb 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-06 21:07:40-05

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Jobs are coming back to the city. Battle Creek Unlimited has been on a mission for the last 40 years to revitalize the city, bringing investment and businesses back to the area. Recently, they’ve struck gold.

“Over the last several months, Prairie Farms is underway investing $28,000,000 that’ll lead to 16 additional jobs,” said B.C. Unlimited President and CEO Joe Sobieralski. “Bowers Aluminum is investing initially about $8,000,000 to create 94 jobs in the Fort Custer Industrial Park.”

That’s just the first phase for Bowers Aluminum, he said. If they advance to other phases, they could be investing upwards of $20,000,000 into the city, bringing up to 300 jobs to Battle Creek. By the end of the year, $50,000,000 could be invested locally.

“Right now people are fighting for labor,” said Sobieralski during an interview at the B.C. Unlimited office. “Some places, their unemployment rates are 3 and a half percent.”

Sobieralski said in Battle Creek it's between 4 and 5 percent. Kellogg’s recent layoffs at their local plant and big box stores, like K-Mart, closing didn’t help. Yet he still sees potential.

“Why they should come here?" asked Sobieralski. “The cost of living is low. You’ve got great access to talent and labor.”

The city is located midway between Detroit and Chicago along I-94, he added. It’s also close to M-66 which runs shipments north and south. These are all a part of the pitch B.C. Unlimited delivers to lure companies in like breweries, which they’re doing to help the downtown area.

“Now one might say ‘why are you doing that?’ said Sobieralski. “But it’s all intertwined. You've got to have a vibrant community to continue to attract additional investment into your community.”

They've even cultivated large plots of land at Fort Custer Industrial Park to bring in companies, he said. They called it the Shovel Ready Project and 10 months later construction began.

“There’s a lot happening in Battle Creek,” said Sobieralski.  “There’s some doom and gloomers out there but there’s a lot of Battle Creek.”