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Michigan approves incentives to keep La-Z-Boy headquarters

MONROE, Mich. — Furnishings importer and manufacturer La-Z-Boy will receive a $3 million Michigan Business Development Program incentive to keep and build its new headquarters here.

Michigan was chosen over a competing site in northwest Ohio, a Michigan Economic Development Corp. press release said. It added that the expansion is expected to generate about $47 million in private investment and create about 50 jobs.

Additionally, a "Renaissance Zone" - an area virtually free of all state and local taxes - was approved for the project, with a value of about $9 million, the press release said. Another $700,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds were given for the project.

The site the company is considering for the new headquarters is on the Sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary campus in Monroe.

La-Z-Boy's current headquarters is in a busy retail district here along U.S. 24, known locally as Telegraph Road, said company Chairman, President and CEO Kurt Darrow. Parts of the facility are at least 80 years old.

"The founders started the company in this facility. It was at one time a factory and the other half was a furniture store, then it was put together as an office," Darrow said. "This will be the second time in the company's history that we've ever taken on the project of a headquarters. So it was about time."

For the supplier's 500 employees here - including corporate and brand staff, plus research and development personnel - the current setting makes collaboration difficult and doesn't represent the global brand image La-Z-Boy aims to project, Darrow said.

While plans haven't been finalized, he said the new headquarters could be between 175,000 and 200,000 square feet. Plans will be completed over the next five months, he said.

La-Z-Boy intends to have the facility to carry the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design designation, he said.

"We're trying to make a state-of-the-art building that is looking forward and thinking about the way people are going to work, and the use of technology going forward," Darrow said.

While plans for it haven't been finalized, the fate of the former headquarters will likely be decided by what market forces deem as its best use, he said, adding that it's a "very old building on a very good piece of property."

City officials in Monroe said they were "delighted to support the continued success of La-Z-Boy" and that retaining about 500 jobs would help the economic recovery of the town and the state.

"La-Z-Boy's continued commitment sends a message that will be heard around the world that Michigan's highly competitive business climate and tremendous workforce capabilities mean real opportunities for leading edge businesses," Michael A. Finney, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said in a press release.

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