• Vacant Southwestern High School to become center of Sakthi 650-employee manufacturing jobs and training programs
• Lightweight metal manufacturing jobs returning to Detroit from China
Sakthi Automotive, a leading global Tier 1 manufacturer, plans to expand its Southwest Detroit facility with the purchase and redevelopment of Southwestern High School, enabling the company to build out an approximately 650-employee manufacturing campus and a training center for new engineers, Mayor Mike Duggan and Gov. Rick Snyder announced today.
The development is being made possible thanks to a deal between Sakthi, its partner, ProVisions, and the Detroit Public Schools to purchase the vacant high school building and turn it into a training center for high-tech manufacturing jobs. Two weeks ago, the Michigan Strategic Fund committed $3.5 million to Sakthi Automotive to support employment and business growth.
Sakthi’s $31-million investment in the facility is driven by the company’s foray into the production of lightweight aluminum castings. This expansion means that lightweight metal auto components currently produced in China will be manufactured by workers in newly-created jobs at the Sakthi campus in Detroit.
“This project is a prime example of how cooperation between the State, the City, Detroit Public Schools and the private sector can help create jobs and preserve our city’s heritage,” said Mayor Duggan. “Sakthi is making a major commitment to Detroit and is creating employment opportunities for our residents that otherwise would have remained overseas.”
The roughly 70-acre Sakthi Manufacturing Campus will contain an estimated 1.2 million square feet of space across four facilities. In the last year, Sakthi entered into purchase agreements for the old GM Fisher Body plant just east of its main building on Fort Street and the former American Mailers building to the west, to house its expanded manufacturing operations.
“Sakthi is investing in Detroit, Michigan – and Detroiters and Michiganders. This project shows how working together – state and city, alongside business and community leaders – can make a positive, meaningful difference and produce real jobs and opportunities for our citizens and communities,” said Gov. Rick Snyder.
Here is how the nearly 650 jobs to be housed at the campus break down:
• Sakthi will maintain its current 170 jobs at its facility (formerly Arvin Meritor) on Fort Street at Waterman.
• The manufacturing expansion already underway to the west on American Way Street is currently adding 150 new jobs.
• The redevelopment of Southwestern High School and its campus will create an estimated 220 new jobs by 2021. Seventy of those jobs will be contained inside the historic portion of the school, which will be used for offices, training and warehousing. The other 150 jobs will be spread across a newly-constructed 100,000-square-foot lightweight metal advanced casting facility and a 10,000-square-foot benchmarking/testing facility that will be housed in the school gymnasium. As part of its renovation, Sakthi plans to incorporate much of the gymnasium floor, where NBA stars Jalen Rose, Howard Eisley and Voshon Lenard once played, and other elements into its design.
• The former GM building to the east of the Sakthi headquarters will be put to use as an advanced distribution/manufacturing center, creating 100 new jobs.
The job expansion created by this development will provide significant opportunity for Detroit residents, particularly returning citizens who are attempting to rebuild their lives after serving time in prison. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Mayor Duggan recently visited Sakthi and praised its program to provide job opportunities returning citizens.
For information on how to apply for jobs as part of the Sakthi expansion, applicants can email firstname.lastname@example.org
“At the Sakthi Group, we are very confident in future of Detroit and that is why we are making a significant investment to provide opportunity for Detroit residents. Sakthi is trying to build this community along with our business expansion. This is what we do everywhere we have business operations,” said Sakthi Group Chairman Dr. Manickam Mahalingam.
“The Detroit expansion is a key strategic decision by Sakthi as Detroit remains the world’s largest automotive hub. It is to our advantage to be near our customer base, including General Motors, Ford Motor Company and many other OEMs. Detroit is our global technical headquarters to support all of our overseas business units in India, China, Europe and other locations,” said Sakthi Automotive Chief Executive Officer Lalit Verma.
Sakthi opened its current facility on Fort Street in 2012, through strong efforts by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) to attract the company to Detroit to establish its first North American presence.
Duggan also thanked Detroit Public Schools for its partnership in the sale of Southwestern High School. The school originally was built in 1921 and expanded in the late 1940s to accommodate the city’s growing population. The school closed in 2012 during a round of budget cuts. Since its closure, DPS has worked to find a buyer who would redevelop the historic structure.
“This project represents the kind of collaborative efforts between the public and the private sectors that will continue to steer Detroit towards a sustainable recovery,” said DPS Emergency Manager Darnell Earley. “I am very pleased that, working together, we were able to get it done. The redevelopment of the Southwestern site, including the re-purposing of the high school into an industrial training center, will strengthen not only the immediate neighborhood, but also the entire community.”
While newer portions of the high school will be removed as part of the development, the original historic structure facing Fort Street, as well as the gymnasium, will be redeveloped.
Duggan said this critical piece of the development preserves an important piece of Detroit history and solidifies this site as the Sakthi Manufacturing Campus.
Construction will start immediately and is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.
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