State OKs grant for new Magna electric Hummer parts plant, more than 300 jobs

Breana Noble, The Detroit News
·3 min read

Feb. 23—Canadian auto supplier Magna International Inc. has broken ground on a more than $70 million facility that will create more than 300 jobs to build new parts needed for the GMC Hummer electric pickup truck.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp.'s governing body on Tuesday approved a $1.5 million grant for the St. Clair project. Magna secured an eight-year contract from General Motors Co. to build battery frames for the trucks built in the Factory Zero plant in Detroit and Hamtramck. The program will help fortify Magna's position in a changing transportation industry.

"Today's agenda will also increase Michigan's worldwide leadership in the mobility and electrification industry," MEDC CEO Mark Burton said during a media briefing ahead of the project's approval, "while paying tribute to our workforce's manufacturing heritage and at the same time creating hundreds of good-paying jobs that will help get Michiganders back to work."

The 345,000-square-foot facility that could expand up to 1 million square feet over the next five years is Magna's 25th manufacturing site in the state. Production is expected to begin in early 2022. The supplier needed the additional space for the multiple metal-joining techniques to make the aluminum, steel and multi-metal battery enclosures. The parts strengthen the structural and safety integrity of the vehicle's frame and protect the high-voltage batteries from damage and water.

"The move toward electrification," John Farrell, president of Cosma International, Magna's body and chassis group, said in a statement, "allows us to rethink what is possible and demonstrate how we can leverage our core strengths to continue bringing customers innovative solutions that help them meet their goals, no matter how challenging."

Wages for the 304 jobs will range from $17 to $48 per hour and average $27 per hour. The company has a training program to support career growth and is working with local workforce development organizations to assist with recruitment efforts. Hiring for operators, engineers, managers and more is ongoing at magna.com/company/careers.

Magna already has more than 10,000 employees across 35 facilities in Michigan, though the project's state support will not hinge upon that employment level being retained per request of the company, Mike Gietzen, the Michigan Economic Development Corp.'s director of business services, wrote in a memo to Michigan Strategic Fund board members.

"The skill set required to manufacture this product is unique to the facility and is not commonly available from other Magna operations in Michigan," he wrote. "Since the skills required are very technical and unique it is very unlikely there will be many employees transferred from an existing Michigan business operation to the facility."

Magna also looked at using other Midwest facilities with excess capacity and lower labor costs. In addition to support from the state of Michigan, the city of St. Clair anticipates approval of a real property tax abatement for the project. The MEDC also authorized a state education tax abatement.

"This announcement," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement, "reaffirms Michigan is transforming along with the automotive industry to ensure the next generation of mobility and electrification is designed, developed, tested, and built right here in our state."

bnoble@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble