Nissan Announces $38.8 Million R&D Expansion
Already dramatic in appearance, the Nissan Technical Center North America in Farmington Hills, Mich., will soon undergo a dramatic increase in work space, highlighted by a 78,000-sq.-ft. (7,246-sq.-m.) engineering facility adjacent to the current building, which already encompasses 374,000 sq. ft. (34,745 sq. m.).
Michigan Hooks Another Big One
By ADAM BRUNS, Site Selection Managing Editor
FARMINGTON HILLS, MICH. Fresh off landing the biggest deal of 2001 in the location by Pfizer in Ann Arbor, the state of Michigan scored another victory last week with the announcement by Nissan Motor Co. that it would invest $38.8 million in the expansion of its research and engineering campus in Farmington Hills.
That's the same town that saw Motorola open its automotive technical center a mere two weeks ago. Now it's the turn of Nissan Technical Center North America, whose project will encompass a 78,000-sq.-ft. (7,246-sq.-m.) engineering building, a 12,700-sq.-ft. (1,180-sq.m.) design studio and a 10,000-sq.-ft. (929-sq.m.) test center. Employment at the center, which already occupied a 374,000-sq.-ft. (34,745-sq.m.) building, will increase from the current 550 to more than 810 by 2004.
Prominent on the punch list will be the engineering building, expected to be complete by the end of 2003. Not only will the engineers there be responsible for the Altima sedan, Xterra SUV and Frontier pickup, but also new minivan, pickup and SUV models due to make their U.S. debut next year.
Nissan is in the midst of a significant business revival, based primarily on new products, said Fred Standish, Nissan spokesman. There is a host of new products coming worldwide, so we need capabilities and capacity and facilities to support the development of these new products.
Further support will come from the state economic development organization.
The MEDC approved a single business tax credit for Nissan to expand in Farmington Hills worth an estimated $15.7 million over the next 17 years, said Paul Krepps, spokesman for the Michigan Economic Development Council. That was their incentive and inspiration for making the decision.
The money came from the Michigan Economic Growth Authority, which only gives assistance to companies for which Michigan is in direct competition with other states and countries. The assistance helped NTCNA choose Michigan over Nissan's worldwide technical headquarters in Atsugi, Japan. The expansion will provide a total of more than $68 million in revenue to the state over the life of Single Business Tax credits awarded by the MEDC, resulting in a net gain for the state of more than $52 million. The project is expected to generate more than $851 million in personal income during that time.
We are extremely pleased that Nissan Technical Center North America, a 12 year citizen of Farmington Hills and our fifth largest tax payer, is considering our city for such an important expansion, said Steve Brock, city manager of Farmington Hills.
The leading-edge technology to be employed in this facility will be a great enhancement to the mix of economic development in our community and it is to our benefit that it be located here rather than in Japan.
Standish made it clear that Nissan Technical Center North America has a tremendous amount of interplay with all company divisions worldwide, whether it's concerning styling or engineering efficiencies. That woven quality is important when so many new models are due to roll out in the next few years.
They will be marketed in segments of the market we don't even play in right now, so it's a very exciting time, he said. Asked when the process began that culminated in last week's announcement, he added that it's hard to say exactly.
Some time ago the president and CEO of Nissan announced we would be significantly expanding our vehicle development capabilities, so I'm not sure I can say at a particular moment in time the expansion fairy hit us on the head with a wand, he joked. It's very hard to pinpoint an exact time, but I can tell you there was no plan three years ago to expand this facility.
As for where they decided to execute the expansion, Standish said the answer was plain from the day the technical center was first established.
When we first decided to expand R&D in the U.S., we looked around, he said. We have a manufacturing center in Tennessee, styling and design in La Jolla, and we decided to locate a tech center in Southeastern Michigan because that's where the engineers are. It's as simple as that.
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