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).

  1. County Programs
  2. Local Programs
  3. MEDC Programs

County Programs

Brownfield Redevelopment
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 as well as a 10% single business tax credit 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 has a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority that is able to implement brownfield plans for properties on behalf of a municipality. Properties that are blighted or obsolete may also qualify for capture of these same taxes under the Core Communities Initiative.  Contact Berrien County Community Development at (269) 983-7111, ext. 8617 for more information. 

Obsolete Property Rehabilitation
Developers of commercial property and commercial housing property now have the ability to be exempt from ad valorem property taxes under the Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act. This act allows commercial properties to receive property rehabilitation exemption certificates if they reside within qualified local governmental units.  Commercial rehabilitation projects must show an increase in the likelihood of commercial activity, creating employment or reducing its loss, or increasing residence within the building's community.  To receive an exemption certificate, a developer must first apply to a qualified local governmental unit (QLGU). The QLGU's in Berrien County are Benton Harbor and Benton Charter Township. 

Local Programs

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 in their efforts to influence the development and changes within the Paw-Paw Lake area.  North Berrien Community Development also provides services as requested to Bainbridge and Hagar Townships.  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 the organization are varied, but do emphasize the job creation and job maintenance aspects of the community.  For more information on the programs available, contact Chana Kniebes at (269) 468-4430. 

Cornerstone Alliance
Cornerstone Alliance is a non-profit, investor driven community and economic development organization focusing on tax and job base creation, with an emphasis on socially and economically distressed areas, facilitating change through partnerships within the communities comprised of Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, Benton Charter Township, St. Joseph Charter Township, Lincoln Charter Township, and Royalton Township.  To support its mission, Cornerstone Alliance offers economic development tools, public relations services, business and education partnerships, employee recruitment and assimilation, and small business services.  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 Bertrand Township, Buchanan City and Township, Galien Township and Village, Niles City and Township, and Three Oaks Township and Village, 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. 

Other Incentives
A few local municipalities, Village of Baroda, City of Buchanan, City of Niles and Village of Stevensville, also offer revolving loan funds. Depending upon availability of funds, Berrien County and a municipality can both 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. 

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 (888) 522-0103 or Berrien County Community Development at (269) 983-7111, ext. 8617 for more information. 

Industrial Development Revenue Bonds
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%-85% of prime.  Contact MEDC at (888) 522-0103 or Berrien County Community Development at (269) 983-7111, ext. 8617 for more information.

MEGA/Hi-Tech MEGA
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, R&D, 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 (888) 522-0103 before announcement or commencement of any project. 

Venture Capital
Michigan's venture funding initiatives are designed to improve access to private venture capital for Michigan growth-oriented firms. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has developed a comprehensive directory of Michigan resources involved with venture funding, including more detailed profiles of venture funds and their interests. For a listing of venture capital firms, visit MEDC at http://medc.michigan.org/GreatLocation/Firm/

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. Contact MEDC at (888) 522-0103 or Berrien County Community Development at (269) 983-7111, ext. 8617 for more information.

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 MEDC at (888) 522-0103 or the Lake Michigan College M-TEC at (269) 926-6832. 

Michigan Virtual University
Michigan Virtual University is the nation's first technical school without walls, bringing the campus to the workplace. It delivers high-quality, convenient, and cost-effective education and training to Michigan's current and future workforce.  A skilled and up-to-date workforce can help Michigan preserve existing jobs and draw new companies and jobs to Michigan and boost the ability of global competitiveness of Michigan companies. 

MVU is a flexible, market-driven organization that contracts for the delivery of its programs and services through Michigan's public universities, community colleges, private colleges, and private sector training providers.  For more information, visit MVU at www.mivu.org, or call (517) 336-7733. 

Youth-Registered Apprenticeship Tax Credit
A Single Business Tax credit of up to $2,000 per year is available to employers who train registered apprentices under age 20 who are enrolled in a high school or GED program.  This credit covers up to 50% of wage-related costs of the apprentice, including salary and other payroll expenses, and up to 100% of course-related costs. 

Under a formal agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training: 

Ø  Students are employed part-time with structured on-the-job training, combined with classroom work.
Ø Wages are paid on a graduated scale leading to journeyman status
Ø  Continued employment with the firm is expected. 

For more information, contact MEDC at (888) 522-0103.