In conjunction with the redevelopment of a technical center, Whirlpool Corp. is supporting a new multi-family development in Benton Harbor which he hopes will help retain and attract talent to his hometown.
Michigan Economic Development Corp. on Tuesday approved incentives for an investment of more than $ 80 million in Berrien County, western Michigan. In collaboration with Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment LLC, Whirlpool is supporting the construction of the Harbor Shores Apartments in Benton Harbor and a two-story office and research center in St. Joseph.
“Great people and great companies need great communities,” said Jeff Noel, vice president of corporate communications for Whirlpool and who has served as MEDC’s interim CEO since March. “We hope this will help us attract and retain talent to be in a dynamic and competitive industry around the world.”
MEDC also approved support for an investment by American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. in southwest Michigan at Three Rivers and an expansion by Hollingsworth Logistics Group LLC, based in Dearborn, Township of Brownstown. .
For the Whirlpool project, the community redevelopment of Harbor Shores will receive a grant from the Michigan Community Revitalization Program of $ 750,000, citing the need due to rising costs of building materials and the fact that the project is not expected to generate positive return.
“It’s not done in a way that generates a short-term financial return,” Noel said. “This is not the intention. The intention is to develop a plot of land in an area that requires additional costs. The real measure is not short-term financial performance. It is really about continuing. redevelopment of the town of Benton Harbor. “
The Berrien County Brownfields Redevelopment Authority also requested approval of a brownfield work plan for the St. Joseph site, comprising more than $ 1.9 million in tax levies over 16 years to deal with $ 4.3 million worth of demolition, infrastructure upgrades and other work to prepare the property. The project also benefits from local tax deductions of $ 2.4 million.
“In order to be a championship economy, we really need to create a holistic, people-centered approach to economic development,” said Quentin Messer Jr., the new CEO of MEDC. The Whirlpool Project shows “how our business investment and community vitality offerings can work together to support the continued growth of this global business in the state, as the business itself continues to reinvest in its workforce. ‘work and the surrounding community’.
Whirlpool will invest more than $ 60 million to rebuild the global laundry and dishwasher technical center in St. Joseph for offices and testing of prefabricated dishwashers and laundry appliances. The project involves the demolition of a four-story building, the construction of a 153,000 square foot facility and the 20,000 square foot renovation of the remaining nearly 59,000 square feet. The updates will retain 400 jobs in engineering, research and development, and administrative support, for an average annual salary of $ 140,000.
The $ 20.9 million Harbor Shores Apartments have been buying back vacant properties for 30 years. The building will include 80 one and two bedroom apartments totaling 89,654 square feet of construction when it opens late next fall. The development will not be exclusive to Whirlpool employees, although walking and cycling trails will link it to the renovated technical center and the global and North American headquarters.
In the past, Whirlpool has supported public, affordable and other housing projects in the community. Whirlpool provided technical and financial assistance to 450 homes.
Monthly rents for the new apartments will range from $ 1,120 to $ 1,682, achievable for households earning between 80% and 120% of the median income in the Berrien County area, according to a briefing note from MEDC. Improvements to Riverview Drive will be made and a sidewalk will be added. And the apartments, of course, will be equipped with Whirlpool appliances.
“We heard from our young professionals that they would like to see more interesting types of housing in the city of Benton Harbor and be part of the city’s resurgence,” Noel said. “(The apartments will have) sightlines that run down from the harbor to Lake Michigan. It will be a very attractive place for people.”
American Axle also received support for $ 40.6 million in new machinery and equipment at its largest Michigan plant at Three Rivers, which will create 100 jobs by 2025. The Detroit-based auto supplier has been awarded a contract eight years for the production of advanced sets of front and rear driving axles. systems for two pickup trucks in Missouri. General Motors Co. has a truck plant in Wentzville, Missouri.
The Three Rivers plant will manufacture 130,000 front drive axles and 174,000 rear drive axles per year. The programs require new drivelines at the facility employing 1,000 workers who manufacture axles for heavy trucks and disconnect all-wheel drive systems.
Three Rivers has applied for a block community development grant of up to $ 2 million, a US Department of Housing and Urban Development program to support economic development. American Axle also received a total five-year exemption of up to $ 468,888 from the state’s essential services assessment, a requirement for manufacturers who do not pay property tax on qualifying manufacturing personal property.
Without the support, manufacturing programs would have gone to its factory in Guanajuato, Mexico, where it has space and where labor costs are cheaper. Michigan’s investment will also support the company’s efforts to create an axle manufacturing center of excellence in the state.
Hollingsworth Logistics Group is a third party logistics supply chain company expanding its operations with a 500,000 square foot facility in Brownstown Township resulting from new business. The investment of more than $ 17 million will create up to 250 new jobs that earn on average $ 22.50 an hour plus benefits. Positions include packers, team leaders, supervisors and managers.
The company will receive a Michigan Business Development Program grant of $ 1.5 million so the project can compete with existing facilities in Ohio, Tennessee and Texas. Hollingsworth employs more than 550 people in Michigan and 3,500 nationally, with 75% of its workforce identifying as a minority or immigrants.
The American Axle and Hollingsworth projects, said Messer of MEDC, demonstrate that “Michigan’s legendary leadership in manufacturing, automotive and mobility continues to be stronger than ever.”