Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined leaders from Whirlpool Corporation along with federal, state and local officials to celebrate the ribbon cutting of the company’s new state-of-the-art technical center in St. Joseph. The facility will house 500 full-time technicians, engineers, designers and adjacent roles and creates opportunities for future talent recruitment to Michigan.
“This $60 million investment by Whirlpool builds on the company’s longstanding commitment to Southwest Michigan,” said Governor Whitmer. “This transformative project will help Whirlpool attract top talent, put more people on paths to good-paying, high-skill jobs, and continue our mission to help anyone ‘make it’ in Michigan. Our unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 23 years, we are moving forward on housing and community revitalization projects across the state, and we just delivered a bipartisan budget to lower costs, expand workforce programs, and power economic development. We look forward to continuing our work together to build a bright future.”
Whirlpool Corporation announced plans to rehabilitate and reconstruct its technology center in June 2021 following Michigan Strategic Fund approval of support for the project. The three-phase project includes a new 153,000-square-foot facility for design and testing of washers, dryers, dishwashers, and small appliances. Future phases include demolition of the existing four-story building and overhauling an additional 20,000 square feet of existing space. The project will redesign the company’s original R&D facility that was home to a century of appliance innovations.
“We wholeheartedly welcome Whirlpool’s substantial investment in our community, reaffirming their enduring dedication to our communities,” said State Representative Joey Andrews (D-St. Joseph). “The establishment of this cutting-edge tech center not only underscores the potential for our region but also sets a powerful precedent for the trajectory of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. This collaboration stands as a prime example of the positive outcomes that economic development can achieve. We extend our gratitude to Whirlpool and look forward to further endeavors that drive progress and prosperity in House District 38 and across Michigan.”
The new building is LEED Silver certified, a globally recognized ranking of sustainability achievement and leadership. Whirlpool Corporation has retained more than 500 full-time positions as part of the project.
“In 1911, the first electric washing machines were built here in St. Joseph, Michigan, and we continue to grow that legacy with the investment in this new, state-of-the-art technology center,” said Marc Bitzer, Whirlpool chairman and CEO. “We are committed to this community, and to improving life at home for families around the world. This new technology hub helps enable both of these promises by creating a new space where future innovation will come to life.”
Whirlpool’s 2021 project also included the construction of a new multifamily housing development in Benton Harbor and relevant road improvements. The 80-unit waterfront development, now called the Emma Jean Hull Flats, opened in June and is expected to attract new residents and businesses to the city. Emma Jean Hull Flats will help enable Whirlpool Corporation to generate positive business impacts, including the ability to attract and retain needed talent while offering housing options.
The city of Benton Harbor is engaged with the MEDC’s Redevelopment Ready Communities program, and the city of St. Joseph is an RRC Essentials community.
“We are grateful to support Whirlpool in its continued investment in Southwest Michigan as we work to position Michigan as a global leader in high-tech innovation and highly advanced manufacturing,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of MEDC and President and Chair of the MSF Board, who attended today’s event. “We are grateful to Governor Whitmer, legislators from both parties, and local officials for their continued support for our programs, and we appreciate the efforts of our local partners in Southwest Michigan in supporting this project. We will continue to earn investments like these, bring vibrancy to our communities, and support our people as we encourage businesses of all sizes to Make It In Michigan.”
Whirlpool is just one of many companies to choose to expand and add tech jobs in the state of Michigan. The project, which retains more than 500 high-paying jobs in the focus industries of engineering, design and development, and professional and corporate services, builds on economic prosperity efforts led by MEDC by supporting a business in the target industries of tech and professional and corporate services and fostering high-wage job growth.
Other recent investments by tech companies include:
- TiiCKER, the world’s first shareholder loyalty and engagement platform, expanding in Grand Rapids, investing $4.8 million and creating 73 high-wage jobs over a three-year period.
- Automation supplier APEX Controls expanding in Hudsonville, investing $3 million and creating well-paying 30 jobs.
- Medical isotope provider Niowave expanding in Lansing, investing $20 million and creating 35 high-wage jobs.
- Norwegian robotics company wheel.me establishing new operations in Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, investing $1 million and creating 40 high-wage jobs.
- Electronics provider MARA Technologies USA establishing first U.S. manufacturing operations in Grand Blanc Township, investing $20.8 and creating 298 jobs.
- EAVX, the technology hub of diversified manufacturer JB Poindexter & Co, expanding in Ypsilanti Township, investing $3.79 million and creating 75 high-wage jobs.
Learn why Michigan is leading the way in tech and innovation here.