LANSING, Mich. — The state on Tuesday awarded $8 million for a growing autism therapy company to relocate its headquarters within Michigan, an incentive officials said was necessary to to keep the business from moving to another state.

The Michigan Strategic Fund Board approved the grant for Centria Healthcare, which is based in the Detroit suburb of Novi and operates in seven other states. It plans to spend $16.5 million to relocate to a larger site in nearby Farmington Hills, adding 1,200 jobs over five years. Farmington Hills will help recruit job candidates.

Centria CEO Scott Barry said the company was considering New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and Tennessee for its new headquarters. A memo from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. said New Mexico and Texas were in the mix, and some incentives dangled elsewhere included large grants for training to help the company quickly ramp up operations. Centria has nearly 1,400 Michigan employees now.

Centria provides applied behavior analysis for children with autism — for which demand is rising as the number of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder increases. The health provider also offers in-home nursing for people with brain and spinal cord injuries.

“When they hire people, it’s to provide this state a core, basic … service required for a person with autism to reach their full potential,” said Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, whose daughter is autistic and who urged the board to OK the incentive. “For a long time, Michigan didn’t have this practice here at all. Now that it is growing, it is making a huge difference in people’s lives.”


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