Economic development investment soaring in new year

Foreign and domestic investment from businesses in Oakland County topped $114 million in January, with 15 companies – including nine international businesses – either expanding or relocating to the county.

It was among the most successful months since the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs began monthly tracking of economic activity in 2004 in which the county played a direct role in the project attraction, retention or expansion.

“We have a skilled and trained workforce and those skills are easily transferrable from one industry to the next, which makes us an attractive destination for companies,” County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “We also have clusters of businesses. Economists call it ‘cumulative causation.’ Businesses are attracted here as others succeed.”

The county has long prided itself on the international diversity of its business investment and continued investment from domestic companies. More than 1,050 international firms from 39 countries have business locations in Oakland County.

Topping the investments for the month is Magneti Marelli Holdings, an Italian auto supplier which is expanding its automotive lighting production capacity with a $35 million project at its facility in Independence Township. The expansion is expected to create more than 360 jobs over five years.

Other auto-related or more traditional expansions included SW North America in Lyon Township; Lucerne International in Auburn Hills; Spot Shooter Archery in Holly and Molex North America in Rochester Hills. The traditional expansions, including Magneti Marelli, totaled more than $70 million; created 528 jobs and retained 397.

January was also a banner month for Emerging Sectors® companies, with 10 businesses either expanding in or locating operations to Oakland County. Those 10 companies are investing more than $44 million, creating 1,205 new jobs and retaining 1,129 jobs. Emerging Sectors is a business attraction and retention strategy that was created in 2004 to offset the loss of manufacturing jobs. Since inception, the program is responsible for 434 successes resulting in $3.8 billion of investment, 41,763 new jobs and 26,647 retained jobs.

Emerging Sectors industry categories include Advanced Electronics & Power Generation, Advanced Materials, Aerospace; Communications & Information Technology, Homeland Security, Medical Main Street® and Robotics & Automation.

A project is considered a success when a company either expanded an existing Oakland County facility when it had offers for competing sites in another state or opened new operations in the county.

Emerging Sectors successes for January include:

• ABB Inc., a subsidiary of Zurich-based ABB Group, which provides power and automation technologies. It is investing $9.1 million in equipment and robotic production its Auburn Hills facility. The investment is creating 40 jobs and retaining 300.

• Valeo North America Inc., whose parent company is located in France, is spending nearly $5 million to build a low speed test track in Auburn Hills and make improvements to its headquarters in Troy. The project will create 290 jobs and retain 560.

• Yanfeng Global Automotive Interior Systems Co. Ltd., is investing $8.4 million in a facility in Novi, consolidating two other facilities. The project will bring 350 jobs to the county. The Shanghai-based company makes instrument panels, seats, door panels and consoles. It has 100 manufacturing plants and technical centers in 18 countries and has 30,000 employees globally.

• Maddog Technologies/Lenderful, is investing $1.7 million and creating 118 jobs in the Riker Building in downtown Pontiac. The technology company was founded by Peter Karmanos Jr. and Mark Hillman.

Other successes for the month (and industry sector) included Teledyne LeCroy of Farmington Hills (Advanced Electronics & Control Systems); SLM Solutions of Wixom Advanced Electronics & Control Systems);
SPI Automotive of Rochester (Advanced Electronics & Control Systems); DW Surface Tech of Commerce Township (Advanced Materials); Louca Mold & Aerospace Machining of Auburn Hills (Aerospace); and C.H. Robinson of Auburn Hills (Communications & IT).

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