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Auto lighting firm to invest $35M, add 362 jobs

Jonathan Oosting and Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Lansing — – An automotive lighting company plans to invest $35 million and add 362 jobs in Oakland County over the next five years.

Automotive Lighting LLC will produce “high-technology, full LED headlamps” at the facility in Independence Township, according to Gene Spektor, vice president of sales for NAFTA at Magneti Marelli, the supplier’s Italian parent company.

The company plans to expand an existing parking lot to accommodate up to three shifts and retrofit a current facility that houses exhaust component manufacturing, which will transfer to a facility in Mexico, according to officials.

“We are certainly committed to the state of Michigan, and we would like to remain here,” Spektor told the Michigan Strategic Fund board ahead of an incentive vote. “It’s an important and main factor in our final decision as to production in Michigan versus another state or south of the border.”

The plans were revealed Monday as the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Michigan Strategic Fund awarded the company a $2 million performance-based grant.

The state funding is to help offset higher upfront costs compared to the company investing in one of their two existing lighting manufacturing operations in Mexico or a current facility in Tennessee, officials said.

Jennifer Nelson, MEDC senior vice president, said Michigan often competes with other states and countries for projects of this type.

“In this case, it was Tennessee and Mexico,” she told The Detroit News, “but it makes sense for it to be here in Michigan. We are the automotive capital of the world, and if we as automotive technologies are advancing, that should happen right here in Michigan. We do have a strong business case when we are competing with other states or countries.”

The company currently employs about 60 workers at the factory, according to Marcia Gebarowski, MEDC senior business development project manager.

The new jobs will range from assembly line positions requiring a minimum high-school education to highly educated engineering staff, Spektor said.

“It’s really the whole gamut,” he told the board.

The company has not received incentives from the Michigan Strategic Fund in the past. It will qualify for a local tax abatement, according to Nicole Thompson of Oakland County Economic Development & Community Affairs.

State Rep. Jim Tedder, R-Clarkston, drove to Lansing on a non-session day to offer local support for the grant request.

German-based Automotive Lighting employs 18,000 globally at 26 locations in 14 countries, according to the company’s website.

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Twitter: @MikeWayland