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Mexican auto supplier investing $54M in Michigan

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Auto supplier TREMEC Corp. plans to invest $54 million and create up to 133 jobs in Michigan to open its first major manufacturing operation in the United States.

TREMEC, a unit of Mexico City-based KUO Group, plans to lease and equip a new building in Wixom to house several existing and new activities, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which announced the plans Thursday.

“TREMEC’s expansion in Michigan rather than other states means well-paying jobs for Michigan residents and underscores the strength of the talent in the state’s automotive sector,” MEDC CEO Steve Arwood said in a statement.

The state awarded the company a $731,500 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. Wixom also is offering support to the project in the form of property tax abatement.

The facility will house the company’s global business development headquarters, a technical support center, an aftermarket business unit and a new advanced automotive transmission production operation.

KUO Group is a diversified manufacturer of automotive, chemical and food products. It has 18,000 employees worldwide and exports its products to more than 70 countries.

Michigan was chosen over competing sites in Indiana, Ohio and Mexico, according to state officials.

Officials with the MEDC did not respond for additional comment about the announcement.

A Mexican-owned company investing in Michigan is a change from recent trends, as automakers pour billions into building plants and facilities south of the border to capitalize on cheaper labor. Detroit automakers alone have recently announced investments of about $10 billion in Mexico.

Ford Motor Co. announced plans earlier this year to build a $1.5 billion plant in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi. That was in addition to the Dearborn-based automaker announcing in 2014 that it would invest $2.5 billion in Mexico for engine and transmission plants.

General Motors Co. said last year it will invest $5 billion in Mexico over six years, dating from 2013 through 2018, and will add 5,600 jobs in the region.

Richard Palmer, the CFO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, said in April the company’s plant in Toluca, Mexico, is expected to begin producing the successor to the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot — both now made in Belvidere, Illinois. Production is slated for the second half of the year and the company did not provide investment costs.

Fiat Chrysler as of last year employed nearly 12,000 people at its operations in Mexico, including seven manufacturing facilities, two training and test facilities and a parts distribution center.

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