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Interiors maker moving in to supply FCA's new Detroit plant

By Graeme Roberts | 10 July 2019

Interiors supplier Dakkota Integrated Systems is to build a plant in Detroit supplying Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles on the 'brownfield' site of a shuttered high school, and will prioritise city residents for jobs there.

Dakkota plans to create 625 jobs at the new 600,000 square foot plant at the site of the vacant Kettering and Rose schools on Detroit's east side.

FCA last February announced plans to build a new assembly plant in Detroit and add production at five existing Michigan facilities, creating nearly 6,500 jobs. The company described the investment as the next step in its US industrialisation plan, announced in 2016 under the late Sergio Marchionne, to expand the Jeep and Ram brands, moving FCA away from declining passenger car segments. The city of Detroit is involved in that project.

"As soon as we finished the FCA deal, we immediately got to work to bring suppliers to the area," said Detroit mayor Mike Duggan.

"Today, we're announcing one of the first... which will bring hundreds more jobs to the east side.

"Even better, Dakkota has agreed to give Detroiters first shot at these jobs."

Dakkota has committed to recruit from the Detroit at Work priority application list for locals for jobs at the new plant. Returning citizens also will have an opportunity to participate in the entire job application process.

"We're excited to bring good manufacturing jobs to the east side of Detroit," said Dakkota Integrated Systems CEO and president Andra Rush.

"We appreciate the mayor and his team for helping us make this happen. This is a win for all parties."

"I have to say we've been fortunate to work with General Motors, Ford, FCA and other OEMs for the last 19 years and always wanted to do a big project in our city (Detroit) ... Now here we are in this opportunity, and to create jobs and meaningful careers, it's just been a dream of mine my whole life. And I can tell you when you see the impact, it touches everyone's lives ..." Rush told crainsdetroit.com.

The new Dakkota plant will supply parts to various FCA Michigan-based factories and offer jobs in assembly operations, material handling, quality inspection, skilled trades and logistics.

Dakkota will buy 32 acres of land from Detroit Public Schools Community District for US$2.6m. The parcel, former home of Kettering and Rose schools, will be cleared to make way for the new factory. The schools closed in 2006 and 2012.

The site will need to be rezoned from residential to manufacturing which will go before city officials for approval as the project's incentives require city council approval.

The administration also is expected to request council and Michigan Strategic Fund approval on a 10-year Detroit Next Michigan Development Corporation Renaissance Zone abatement on real property, corporate income taxes and utility user taxes.

Plastics News noted Detroit gave similar tax breaks to Urbana, Illinois-based supplier Flex-N-Gate to build its new $160mi plant in the I-94 Industrial Park, which supplies metal and injection moulded parts to Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.

Construction is expected to begin within 60 days of closing with assembly lines running late in 2020.

"This is the first of what we expect to be several new industrial facilities created by FCA's presence in Detroit," said Kevin Johnson, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation president and CEO.

"We are building a vertical supply chain in Detroit that can satisfy any automotive demand and extending the city's global leadership in the auto and mobility sectors."

FCA said in a statement: "We applaud Dakkota's commitment to invest in a new manufacturing facility on Detroit's east side and to join FCA in putting Detroiters first. While this new facility will bring even more new jobs to the area and strengthen our manufacturing footprint, we also believe that investments like this one will help build a more vibrant community and provide stability for the future. We encourage others to take notice and join us in investing in Detroit."

Dakkota Integrated Systems is a joint venture established in 2001 between majority partner Rush Group and Magna International. The Michigan-based tier one supplier manages complex assembly and sequencing of integrated automotive components for original equipment manufacturers at 14 locations in the US and Canada and currently employs 2,200 people.