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Michigan Governor Announces Funding to Fix Roads and Support 729 Jobs in Berrien and Wayne Counties

LANSING, MI — Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) have awarded two state Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) grants that will support a total of 729 new and existing jobs in Berrien and Wayne Counties. The grants will help fund infrastructure improvements related to an expansion of Whirlpool’s technical facilities in St. Joseph and Lear Corporation’s new seat manufacturing plant in Detroit.

"These grants will help us put Michiganders first and demonstrate our ongoing collaborative efforts around economic development and infrastructure here in Michigan," Whitmer said. "We will continue to stay laser-focused on growing our economy, creating good jobs for Michiganders, and ensuring safe roads for drivers in every community."

City of St. Joseph, Berrien County
“The City of St. Joseph is excited to learn that it was awarded a TEDF-A grant by the Michigan Department of Transportation,” said John Hodgson, City Manager, City of St. Joseph. “It will bring the city one step closer to funding the much-needed reconstruction project and associated improvements on Upton Drive. We are very pleased that MDOT is supporting Whirlpool’s commitment to southwest Michigan with the construction of the new St. Joseph Technical Center.”

St. Joseph and the surrounding region is home to Whirlpool Corporation's Global and North American Headquarters Teams, Consumer Insights and Service Teams, Cooking and Refrigeration Technology Centers, Laundry and Dishwasher Technical Center, appliance warehouses, and other facilities that employ over 4,000 people locally. Upton Drive serves as the main access route for approximately 75 percent of people using the Whirlpool Laundry and Dishwasher Technical Center, which houses over 400 employees in its current building and 1,200 within the complex.

In 2019, Whirlpool began exploring options for another significant capital investment project — the renovation or replacement of its Laundry and Dishwasher Technical Center on Upton Drive. After extensive evaluation of their global locations, remaining in St. Joseph seemed most beneficial providing roadway improvements could be made that would continue to support their employees traveling between multiple buildings and interstate suppliers. The poor and deteriorating condition of Upton Drive is a concern as it jeopardizes access to the facility by both employees and suppliers.

The City of St. Joseph will reconstruct Upton Drive from Momany Drive south to the Cul de Sac. The reconstruction will create a uniform road surface that reduces jostling of sensitive equipment, provides easy access by employees, and provides well drained roadways that alleviate flooding and icing hazards. The total project cost is $4,866,859.

City of Detroit, Wayne County
“As a just-in-time supplier to global automakers, location and nearby infrastructure are key requirements to help us deliver products with world-class quality and innovation on time to our customers,” said Frank Orsini, Lear Executive Vice President, and President, Seating. “We would like to thank the Michigan Department of Transportation for providing funding from the Transportation Economic Development Fund to improve roads in the area and contribute to the economic growth of the City of Detroit.”  
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Lear Corporation secured a contract with General Motors to supply automotive seating systems to its new Factory Zero in Hamtramck, a 2021 TEDF recipient. Lear required a new manufacturing facility close to Factory Zero to deliver on this contract. It found a site partner in NorthPointe Development, who was considering a project to redevelop the former Cadillac Stamping Plant.

The problem for both companies was that the surrounding road network was in very poor condition. The City of Detroit pledged to work to obtain funding to reconstruct the two roads. With this assurance, NorthPoint committed to invest $71 million to demolish the old plant and construct a 684,000-square-foot facility. Lear Corporation committed to occupying 416,125 square feet of the new building, investing $50 million in production equipment, and hiring 329 new employees by 2025.

To accommodate the needs of Lear Corporation to have improved access to the site, the City of Detroit will reconstruct Devine Avenue from French Road to Athens Avenue, and Athens Avenue from Harper Road to Devine Avenue. The project will include the addition of crossings compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act at all intersections. The railroad crossing signs on Devine Avenue just west of the facility will be moved to accommodate the sidewalk improvements. To accommodate direct access to the new facility, Northpointe Development will construct a new driveway to the facility along that is referred to as Easement A. The total project cost is $2,250,328.

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SITECH Michigan
Your local Trimble Construction Division dealer
SITECH Michigan
Your local Trimble Construction Division dealer
SITECH Michigan