Flex-N-Gate plans to add 650 jobs in new Detroit plant

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

Auto supplier Flex-N-Gate Corp. plans to invest $95 million in a new plant in the I-94 Industrial Park in Detroit that will create 650 and possibly up to 750 new jobs in the city.

The Michigan Strategic Fund on Tuesday approved a $3.5 million grant for the project to help the company with brownfield development costs such as demolition, site preparation and power infrastructure costs.

The state, in a memo from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said the expansion is necessary because the supplier of parts such as vehicle front ends, headlamps, fascia, trim components and bumpers has been awarded a contract to increase the supply of parts to Ford Motor Co. The supplier does not have room for the work in any of its plants in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio or Canada, according to the MEDC.

Flex-N-Gate plans to build a 500,000-square-foot production and sequencing facility on a 30-acre site in the industrial park near I-94, east of I-75. The company plans to buy the land from the city, the state says.

A memo from the Detroit Economic Development Corp., which Tuesday approved the land sale to Flex-N-Gate, says the building would be about 350,000 square feet, and the company would invest $100 million and create up to 650 jobs within three years.

Details on when the company planned to hire workers were not immediately available. The MEDC directed people interested in jobs at Flex-N-Gate to check http://jobs.flex-n-gate.com/jobs.

Flex-N-Gate officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

A news conference at the site off Georgia Street near City Airport is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. A spokesman for Mayor Mike Duggan declined immediate comment ahead of Wednesday’s event.

Scheduled to attend the press conference are Duggan; Shahid Khan, owner of Flex-N-Gate and the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team; Charlie Pryde, regional director of government affairs for Ford; Steve Arwood, president and CEO of MEDC; and City Council member Scott Benson.

Flex-N-Gate will buy the land for about $1.34 million, though the company will receive a credit of nearly $1.09 million for site prep work at closing, lowering the city’s actual realized gain on the sale to about $257,000, according to the Detroit Economic Development Corp.

The company must complete construction within two years once building starts and the company will be encouraged to hire Detroit residents, according to the Detroit Economic Development Corp.

The MEDC and city of Detroit are recommending Renaissance Zone approval for the company on the site in the future and the auto supplier may be offered a tax abatement from the city.

The 186-acre industrial park has two tenants: Exel, a logistics company, and Linc, a Universal Truckload Services company that opened a new logistics center in the park. That facility was developed by Warren-based Crown Enterprises, which is owned by the Moroun family that also owns the Ambassador Bridge and Michigan Central Depot.

Flex-N-Gate, founded in 1956 and based in Urbana, Illinois, has 48 manufacturing sites and nine product development and engineering facilities in the U.S., Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, China and Spain. The company and its subsidiary Ventra have 11 manufacturing plants and a research and development facility in Michigan.

Separately, the Michigan Strategic Fund also approved a $2.1 million loan for United Kingdom-based Cosworth Group to invest up to $30 million for a new manufacturing facility in the Cherry Creek Business Park in Shelby Township. The site was chosen over a competing location in Indiana, and Shelby Township will provide a tax abatement for the project, the MEDC said.

The project includes creating a minimum of 50 jobs over five years. The company plans to open a new manufacturing site to machine V-8 cylinder heads for an original equipment manufacturer, creating up to 110 jobs, according to a memo from the MEDC.

The company says the project will help it expand its high performance auto and engineering business and it expects production to begin ramping up starting in August 2018. Those interested in working at Cosworth should visit www.cosworth.com/careers.


Staff Writer Christine Ferretti contributed.