GM’s Warren Tech Center investment worth nearly $1B

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. is expected to confirm hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, expansion and renovation plans for its aging Warren Tech Center on Thursday when it hosts a press conference at the site for what it calls a “major announcement.”

A source familiar with the automaker’s plans said the total investment GM will announce for the campus will be close to $1 billion. Warren officials and Mayor Jim Fouts have said GM’s total investment at the Tech Center could reach $1 billion.

The Detroit automaker would not offer details of the announcement, but GM spokesman Dan Flores said it is about the “future of the Warren Tech Center.”

Part of the investment will include a new building for GM’s information technology operations, according to the source. The company is in the process of in-sourcing 90 percent of its information technology workforce to increase innovation and trim costs. Warren houses one of four information technology innovation centers for GM across the country and employment there has grown beyond its 1,500 worker target.

GM has been considering a $419.4 million expansion and renovation for the sprawling campus that could include new construction, renovation and additions to current buildings and new parking structures.

The project is expected to retain 3,800 employees and create 2,600 jobs in engineering, product development, information technology and other areas over the next several years, John Blanchard, GM’s director of local government relations, told the Warren City Council last month.

Fouts, in an interview Wednesday, said he expects GM will announce hundreds of millions of dollars in new investments, which could approach $1 billion. He said GM will create thousands of new jobs at the Tech Center in a “huge expansion.”

“It’s a shot in the arm to the Warren economy,” he said. “It’s a boost to the area economy.”

The carmaker has been consolidating some engineering jobs into Michigan, and Warren Council Secretary Scott Stevens previously told The Detroit News that he expects most jobs GM will add at the Tech Center will be in information technology.

In April, the Warren City Council unanimously approved a 50-percent tax abatement on the proposed project that would generate as much as $97 million in property tax savings for GM over more than a decade.

The campus, which sits on 330 acres between 12 Mile and 13 Mile, Van Dyke and Mound roads, houses about 19,000 GM workers and contractors. The site includes more than 60 buildings that date to the 1950s. GM has said it wants to improve the campus to be “more modern, competitive and collaborative” to help retain and attract talent. Much of the campus suffered significant flood damage in August 2014.

GM previously said senior management was still reviewing the project and it had not been approved, though a spokesman had noted the tax abatement approval was a key part of the project’s business case.

GM, in its tax abatement application to Warren, listed several potential projects with $180 million for the Design Studio and a new parking garage topping the list as most expensive. The company said it also may spend $63.7 million for a building it did not identify; $54 million for unidentified parking; nearly $60 million for renovations at Research and Development buildings; $39 million addition to the Pre-Production Operations building; $20 million renovation/addition to an Advanced Engineering Center lab; and $750,000 in renovation to a cafeteria.

GM executives, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and local politicians including Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Fouts are expected to attend.

Last month, GM announced a $139.5-million investment for a new body shop and stamping plant improvements for its Pre-Production Operations at the Tech Center. A few years ago, GM invested $130 million at the Tech Center for a new information technology data center.