Incentives approved to bring Amazon center to Romulus

The Michigan Strategic Fund approved a $5 million grant this morning for Amazon.com, the financial commitment the Seattle-based retail behemoth said it needed to build a delivery center in Romulus and create at least 1,600 jobs.

In addition, the state also approved nearly $7 million in grants for two companies — Williams International, a jet engine manufacturer, and Autoliv, an airbags manufacturer — that officials said would lead to millions of dollars in capital investments and hundreds of jobs in Oakland County.

Earlier: Amazon seeks to build second center in Michigan, hire 1,600

“These projects reflect the growing appeal of Michigan as an aerospace magnet for businesses," said Steve Arwood, CEO fo the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which,administers grants and programs, "and are more evidence of the profound advantages of locating and expanding a business in the global automotive capital.”

The Amazon grant, which had been expected to be approved, expands the online retailer's Midwest distribution network in Michigan.

The grant goes to offset new road and infrastructure improvement costs.

The regional distribution centers — which Amazon calls fulfillment centers — are an important part of the retailer's strategy to speed up delivery amid competition with traditional brick-and-mortar shops and other online sellers.

It follows Amazon's announcement six months ago that it is building a distribution center in Livonia, near the intersection of I-96 and I-275 that would employ about 1,000 workers there. That center is expected to be opened in October.

Amazon is expected to spend an estimated $140 million to build the center in Romulus, bringing the total amount it is spending on the two centers in Southeast Michigan to about $230 million.

The center in Romulus could be built and opened within a year, officials said.

“A second major investment by Amazon since December speaks volumes about Wayne County as a distribution and logistics hub," Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said in prepared remarks. "It reflects the advantages we offer as commerce evolves in the global economy.”

Williams praised the city, county, and state cooperation that the deal required.

In Oakland County, Williams International is expected to spend $344.5 million on redeveloping the former home of the Michigan Motion Pictures Studio in Pontiac as a manufacturing facility. The Commerce Township company makes jet engines.

State officials said the aerospace manufacturer is receiving a $4 million grant. It is expected to hire about 400 workers and could transfer 500 more workers to the Pontiac plant when it is completed from its other locations.

Pontiac also offered property tax incentives.

"Pontiac welcomes the solid corporate character and economic development diversity Williams International brings,” said Pontiac Mayor Deirdre Waterman. “We are especially pleased with the significant commitment to the jobs and training in the high-tech industry that we negotiated as part of the development agreement."

Autoliv — based in Stockholm, Sweden, and Auburn Hills — will receive a $2.6-million grant.

The auto-safety manufacturer — which makes airbags, seatbelts, radar and camera systems — plans to invest $22.6 million in Southfield to build an 180,000-square-foot facility, and create 384 jobs over five years. 

Southfield, which beat out cities in Ohio and Utah, also offered property tax abatement.

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© Detroit Free Press


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