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Innovative Financing Helps Businesses Expand - Including Two Local Companies

Grow Michigan, investor banks, MSF catalyst for $141-million in private investment; finance support leads to job security and growth


Skilled Manufacturing, Inc. of Grand Traverse County and Kalkaska Screw Products, Inc. of Kalkaska County are among 12 thriving small businesses receiving $20.1-million in necessary collateral and capital financing support from Grow Michigan, designed to stimulate private-sector capital investment in companies with 500 employees or less that aim for the next stage in expanding their enterprise.


In its first year, Grow Michigan reported at last Wednesday’s board meeting (Feb. 5), a total of $34.2 million of committed capital when adding funds from leading members of Michigan’s banking community and Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF). Facilitating security for these loans translates into private investment of $141 million. Among the striking and positive measurable results of stimulating small business growth is the creation and retention of 1,300 jobs, including about 280 new jobs.


“Our partnership with Grow Michigan along with state and community financial institutions is a testament of the power of collaboration, and the ingenuity of public-private teamwork that is a vital catalyst for small business growth,” said Michael Finney, president of Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), which serves as the state’s marketing advocate for business development, job attraction, tourism, cultural grants and incentives.


MSF was created in 1984 to promote economic development and create jobs in Michigan. Among the many ways of achieving its goals, MSF provides grants, loans and programs managed through the MEDC.


“Reasonably priced growth capital to Michigan’s small business community was much discussed, but not available,” said Russ Youngdahl, CEO of Grow Michigan. “Through the creative initiative of the MEDC, our investor banks and Grow Michigan, we have been successful in proving that with proper underwriting, we can accelerate growth in Michigan by filling the capital needs for small business.”


The approved funds are provided to growing Michigan small businesses in a wide range of industries located in nine counties, including low-to-moderate income regions. All 12 investments into small businesses are eligible for the Community Reinvestment Act.


Grow Michigan’s offers key financing assistance for small business by offering mezzanine loans from $500,000 to $3 million over 5 years. MSF’s contribution is approximately one-sixth of Grow Michigan’s investment.


Plymouth-based Grow Michigan was founded by Youngdahl, former vice president of finance for Penske Transportation and CEO of Penske Financial Services; Henry Brennan, partner of Howard and Howard; David Treadwell, former CEO of EalgePicher Corp.; and, E. Mark Gregory, former executive vice president of Comerica Bank. The nine-member board includes three members each from the founders, MEDC and investor banks.


Participating investor banks include Fifth Third Bank, PNC, Huntington, PrivateBank, Crestmark Bank, Seaway Community Bank, Bank of Holland, Bank of Northern Michigan and Mercantile Bank of Michigan.


The MEDC offers a number of business assistance services and capital programs for business attraction and acceleration, entrepreneurship, strategic partnerships, talent enhancement, and urban and community development.


“The key to our success and continued growth is our partnership with our investor banks and the MEDC,” said Youngdahl.


In addition to Premier Tool & Die Cast of Berrien County, companies receiving capital from Grow Michigan include:


  • Thomas Industrial Rolls, Inc., Northern Lakes Seafood & Meats, Hamilton Engineering, Inc., Sakthi Automotive Group USA, Inc., and MCM Management Corp. of Wayne County
  • Bar Fly Ventures of Ingham County
  • Wolverine Metal Stamping, Inc. of St. Joseph County
  • Novo Motor Acoustic Systems, Inc. of Macomb County
  • Skilled Manufacturing, Inc. of Grand Traverse County
  • Kalkaska Screw Products, Inc. of Kalkaska County
  • Gonzalez Group of Hillsdale County


Approximately two-thirds of all new jobs are created by small businesses and generate half of the U.S. gross national product, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.


For more information on Grow Michigan, please visit 

For more information on the Michigan Strategic Fund and Michigan Economic Development Corp., please visit


Northwest Michigan Works! is an essential resource for employers and job seekers in the Northern Michigan area.
- Kathy Stuart, Michigan Rubber Products Human Resource Manager