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Hancock receives $2.7 M federal grant for technology park

HANCOCK — The city of Hancock has been awarded a $2.7 million grant from Economic Development Administration (EDA), to provide flood resilient infrastructure for a new a business and technology park that will house technology and technology-driven light manufacturing businesses.

According to a release from Gov. Gretchen Whimter’s office, the project will attract technological businesses through creation of an industrial park, stimulating the local economy. The project also invests in drainage infrastructure, preparing Hancock for future floods and making the community safer. The grant’s impact will aid recovery efforts from the 2018 flood, and attract businesses and private investment, which will create jobs and support the local economy.

City Manager Mary Babcock said that the grant award is good news, adding that the project of an industrial park in the city actually began with the purchase of a 40-acre parcel three decades ago.

“They (the city) purchased these 40 acres 30 years ago, with the intension of a business and technology park,” she said. “This is the second time around for this project application. We had applied for it in the past.”

The parcel, she said, is located behind the Hancock High School, near Tomasi Drive, and extends out to Lake Annie Road.

The industrial park will not be linked to the Michigan Tech SmartZone, but there would space would be availability for someone was looking for a spot from the SmartZone, said Babcock.

“It’s for any business in there that needs the acreage and you know, there will be covenentants that they have to meet to get into the park, which we have not formulated yet.”

In reference to the mention of providing flood resilient infrastructure, Babcock said it falls under drainage infrastructure in the event the city suffers flooding as it did in 2018.

“I’m going to read something into this,” she said, “but my understanding is that she (Whitmer) put that in there, because the funding is related to the 2018 flood. It will make sure that it has the retention clause and availability for the resiliency against the flood, but no different than any other industrial park.”

Construction on the park is projected to start in 2022, said Babcock, with a $75,000 Site Readiness grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation,

Whitmer’s office release said the EDA connected public and private stakeholders on the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission (WUPPDR) to lead this initiative, adding that WUPPDR works to strengthen the regional economy and create jobs through public and private investments, including this 2.7 million grant.

“The City of Hancock would like to extend our appreciation to the Economic Development Authority for approving the grant application to proceed with the Hancock Business & Technology Park,”Babcock was quoted in the release as saying. “The project has been a true collective effort between the City Council, WUPPDR, KEDA and OHM Advisors to spur economic development in this region. We appreciate the investment in our community by the EDA and are looking forward to starting the project.”

In an EDA press release on Friday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced that the Department’s EDA was awarding the grant to the city of Hancock. The EDA project, to be matched with $666,028 in state and local funds, is expected to create 61 jobs, retain 147 jobs, and generate $17 million in private investment.

Sen. Gary Peters said in the release that the 2018 flood dealt significant damage to local buildings and roads in Houghton County.

“I was able to visit Hancock after the floods and see the damage firsthand,” Peters is quoted as saying, “and I’m grateful that this federal grant will help build resilient infrastructure (and) will not only create jobs but jumpstart local economies – especially as we work to recover from the damage and this pandemic.” Peters said.

This project is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136 PDF), which provided EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, the EDA release stated. EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which is being administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) (PDF) program, provides a wide-range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

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