Flex-N-Gate breaks ground for $95 million plant in Detroit

on Apr25

Shahid Khan: “Nothing starts without a customer and here Ford is really the great impetus in this development in really a critical part of America that really needs this investment.” Photo credit: Chad Livengood

DETROIT — Flex-N-Gate broke ground on a $95 million plant on Detroit’s east side that Mayor Mike Duggan touted as the largest auto supplier investment in the city in more than two decades.

The 600,000-square-foot plant is being built on 30 acres of vacant land near downtown Detroit northeast of the I-94 and I-75 interchange. Construction is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2018. Production should begin during the second quarter.

“This is the kind of development that we’ve been working for, the kind of development Detroit has not been able to compete for in recent years,” Duggan said. “But we’re starting to compete and win right now.”

Flex-N-Gate owner Shahid Khan said the Urbana, Ill.-based supplier chose the site after he was personally urged by Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford Jr. to build a plant in Detroit. Plans for the operation were first announced last May. 

“Nothing starts without a customer and here Ford is really the great impetus in this development in really a critical part of America that really needs this investment,” said Khan, a Pakistani-American billionaire and owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

Flex-N-Gate plans to hire at least 400 workers. At full capacity, up to 750 total jobs could be added, the city said Monday in a news release.

Flex-N-Gate has other plants on Coolidge Highway in Royal Oak and three plants in Warren on East Nine Mile Road, Groesbeck Highway and East 11 Mile Road.

Khan said Bill Ford was a “key driver” in his decision to build a new plant in the city, urging him to “really try hard to be in the city of Detroit.”

“When the customer gives you a sense of direction of that’s what you’d like, that’s what you want to look at,” Khan said. “And, frankly, I’m hoping after this we’ll have other customers, other American and foreign customers who will want to have parts built in the city of Detroit.”

Flex-N-Gate builds bumpers, front end modules, headlamps and other molded parts. Khan wouldn’t say which specific parts will be built at the Detroit plant.

The company is getting a Renaissance Zone tax break of $5.9 million over 10 years on its corporate income tax, city property tax and utility users tax. Flex-N-Gate also was granted an abatement of half of debt millage taxes, according to Duggan’s office.

Last year, Detroit sold the vacant land to Flex-N-Gate for $1.3 million. The land was previously residential, but has been vacant for years. The Flex-N-Gate project is the latest in Detroit’s development of its I-94 Industrial Park. 

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