A unit of Illinois supplier Flex-N-Gate has acquired a facility in central Michigan to stamp bumpers for the upcoming Ford Ranger midsize pickup.
The unit, Ventra Ionia Main LLC, plans to invest $4.85 million to buy the 48,900-square-foot facility in Ionia, Mich. The project is expected to create 109 jobs and expand the company's adjacent operations in Ionia.
The Ford Ranger is slated to hit the increasingly competitive midsize pickup market in early 2019. It will compete against the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. And earlier Friday, Fiat Chrysler announced plans to enter the segment with a midsize Ram.
Ventra Ionia specializes in front and rear bumpers, trailer hitches and chrome-plated plastics.
The company's existing Ionia operation covers 724,000 square feet and employs about 1,300, said Mellissa Kendall, director of energy at Flex-N-Gate, in a May 31 email to Plastics News, an affiliate of Automotive News.
Ventra Ionia will also receive a $600,000 performance-based grant from the MEDC’s Michigan Business Development Program, contingent on job creation, base level of employment and investment. MEDC said Michigan was chosen over competing sites in Illinois and Indiana.
“We anticipate to begin hiring in October 2018,” Kendall said.
MEDC spokeswoman Kathleen Achtenberg said in a May 31 email there are two milestones that must be met by Sept. 30, 2020: The first disbursement of $137,600 will be made for the creation of 25 jobs, and the second disbursement of $462,400 will be made for the creation of 84 jobs.
“Today’s news wouldn’t be possible without the assistance from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the city of Ionia,” Bill Beistline, Flex-N-Gate’s vice president of procurement, said in a statement on Thursday. “Flex-N-Gate’s growth in Michigan proves that the automotive industry is still robust."
In 2014, Ventra Ionia received a $500,000 performance-based grant from the Michigan Business Development Program for a project in Ionia that included a capital investment of $8.5 million and the creation of 144 new jobs.
Parent company Flex-N-Gate is headquartered in Urbana, Ill., and employs more than 26,000 people across 62 facilities worldwide. It is owned by Illinois billionaire Shahid Khan, who also owns the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. Forbes estimates his net worth at $7.2 billion.
Flex-n-Gate is building a $160 million parts plant in Detroit, also to serve Ford. It is slated to open this fall with 400 employees.
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