The decision of a major auto supplier to build a new manufacturing facility in Detroit will produce hundreds of new jobs, including many that could go to city residents.
"We're going to have Detroiters making things in the city of Detroit again," said Mayor Mike Duggan, at the official announcement Wednesday.
Flex-N-Gate, a global auto supplier, will invest $95 million in construction and capital costs to build a 350,000 square foot facility in the I-94 Industrial Park on Detroit's east side. The company expects to hire 400 to 650 workers initially and could employ up to 750 workers at full capacity.
Flex-N-Gate supplies parts to Ford Motor Company and already has 11 plants and a research facility in Michigan. The company is owned by Shahid Kahn, who is also owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League (NFL).
The agreement includes state and local tax incentives and abatements and calls for construction of the facility on the site near City Airport that has been waiting for investment.
"This basically has been a great deal of empty area, actually a sign of failed promise in Detroit," Duggan said. "In the last year you've seen a dramatic change."
Duggan said a series of community engagement meetings will be held with residents starting next month. Job training is also being planned, according to Duggan.
"This is a catalyst to get things started here, so hopefully this brings more business in here and more jobs in here and keep them in Detroit," said Walter Brown, who lives and works in the area.
"The headline today really is not about our company," said Kahn, a Pakistani born billionaire. "The headline is about jobs, hundreds of outstanding, well paying jobs. The kind of jobs that really were the backbone of the middle class."
Kahn moved to the United States at the age of 16 and became a U.S. citizen in 1991.
"If you put it (the facility) out in Sterling Heights, it might as well be in another state," Duggan said. "You put it here, not only do the people get employed, but now I can go take some of the vacant houses, move families in and start to fill in neighborhoods."
Duggan said he expected to take the agreement with Flex-N-Guard to Detroit City Council this summer. Council must approve the deal.