The Sparta Economy Engine News


| June/July 1996



Sparta nameplate

20601 Old State Road Haubstadt, Indiana 47639

Here is the beginning of a story about a company that eventually became the Hercules Gas Engine Company.

Today, when you drive east from Highway 37 into the village of Sparta, Michigan, a very attractive sign will greet you.

The village, as it is called, is located some 15 miles north, northwest of Grand Rapids. According to the clerk in the village office, there were 3,968 people in Sparta for the 1990 census. The 1910census listed 1203 people living there during the time that the following story takes place, 1908 - 1913.

Then, as now, communities were looking for ways to attract new industries and businesses. The Business Men's Association in the village of Sparta was no different. They had come up with a way to raise funds to use as an incentive to prospects. They would bond the village for $20,000 for an electric light plant. That apparently was legal. However, everyone knew that the money would be used otherwise. On August 6, 1908 a referendum was held and the bonding issue passed 234 to 23. A two-thirds majority was necessary so it passed easily. Actually, the money raised would be used for cash and facility incentives to prospective industries.

In August of 1908 the Luens Pump Company of Dayton, Ohio was interested in locating in Sparta; however, they had demanded too much incentive from the village and they were turned down.