Almost 1,000 new jobs and $169 million in new investment is coming to West Michigan thanks to the arrival of a Chinese auto parts maker in Greenville and the expansion of an Israeli-based maker of carbon fiber auto parts in Walker.
The new jobs were announced Wednesday, Sept. 17, at a Lansing press conference hosted by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and The Right Place Inc.
In Greenville, Dicastal North America Inc. will create up to 300 new jobs over the next four years as it develops a facility to build 3 million aluminum alloy wheels a year on the campus of Uni-Solar, a company that once employed 300 workers before closing in 2012.
Dicastal, a new North American business entity created by Chinese-based CiTiC Dicastal Co. Ltd. , has purchased the 98-acre parcel and intends to make additional construction investments totaling about 100,000 square feet of manufacturing space, according to the announcement.
The $8.5 million incentive package for Dicastal includes a mix of state and local support, including: Michigan Business Development Program grants, property tax abatements, federal Community Development Block Grants, and other energy incentives.
“The Right Place is well aware that the use of aluminum and other lightweight materials in automotive parts will continue to increase dramatically as federal policies and design innovation demand decreased automobile weight,” said Birgit Klohs, President and CEO of The Right Place in a news release.
“This economic development project underlines the importance of having a strong international business development strategy for West Michigan and working with our partners at the MEDC and the City of Greenville.”
“The City of Greenville is delighted to announce this project along with our new partners The Right Place,” said Greenville City Manager George Bosanic. The Greenville plant is expected to be operational in late 2015.
“We’ve always known that the Uni-Solar site is an ideal location for some company, and that we have skilled workers, so we believe we’ve found a solid match in Dicastal,” Bosanic said. “This project is a great example of local, regional and state economic development agencies working together to recruit on a global level.”
In a second announcement, Plasan Carbon Composites announced plans to create up to 620 new jobs over the next three years as it invests $29 million into a consolidation of its operations from Bennington, Vermont, to its facility at 3195 Wilson Ave. NW.
The company is in line to receive up to $6 million in the form of a Michigan Business Development Program performance based grant, including local support from the city of Walker, according to Right Place officials.
Plasan makes lightweight carbon fiber components for automotive companies. Their product line includes body parts and assemblies for sports cars, including the Corvette Stingray, Viper SRT and the Shelby Mustang GT500KR.
The 197,000-square-foot Walker facility, which employs 350, can produce parts to accommodate 30,000 to 50,000 vehicles, but it is reaching capacity quickly, according to Right Place officials. That’s causing the company to invest in additional infrastructure and renovations to expand production capability.
Nearly 530 of the new jobs will be semi-skilled operator jobs and the remaining 90 will be office and management-related positions, the Right Place announcement said.
Plasan was established in 2006 when Plasan SASA Ltd., a private Israeli company, purchased the automotive division from Vermont Composites and began its vehicle parts manufacturing in Vermont.
“Plasan’s investment and expansion in West Michigan further demonstrates our region’s unique expertise in manufacturing innovation,” said Klohs.
“When you combine West Michigan’s commercial design talent with innovative manufacturing materials, like carbon fiber, the options are limitless for companies like Plasan.”
In 2013, Plasan moved its official headquarters from Bennington, Vermont to Wixom, Mich. In 2014, the company ended manufacturing operations in its Bennington facility and started relocating people, capita, and production capabilities to the Walker location.
“Our experience in launching the new facility in West Michigan has been great and made easy the decision of how/where to expand with our next phase of growth,” said Jim Staargaard, President, Plasan Carbon Composites.