CASS CITY, MICH. - Walbro Automotive Corp. is building an injection molding plant in Meriden, Conn., that will manufacture automotive fuel rails. With considerable public financial help, Walbro is building a 160,000-square-foot facility on the site of a former silverware plant. The building is expected to cost about $16.5 million, with machinery and equipment adding another $3.5 million to the project's cost.
Walbro Automotive, based in Auburn Hills, Mich., already has a plant in Meriden. The firm is a subsidiary of publicly owned fuel storage and delivery company Walbro Corp. of Cass City.
``We're clean out of space in our Meriden plant and we're leasing space elsewhere right now,'' Walbro Corp. Chairman L.E. Althaver said in an interview in Cass City.
The city is picking up the $2 million tab for acquiring the property, clearing off the old plant and demolishing about 10 old homes.
About 350 Walbro employees make fuel modules in Meriden now, and the firm will add capacity in the new plant for molding a million fuel rails a year for Chrysler Corp. and Ford Motor Co. vehicles, beginning with the 1996 model year.
The rails will be new business for Walbro. The new plant in Meriden will double Walbro's capacity there for in-tank fuel modules. Those units combine the fuel pump with a fuel reservoir system and contain level sensors, purgevalves and safety-related rollover valves. Module cus-tomers include Chrysler, Ford and Saturn Corp.
The state is contributing $9.9 million in loans and grants, contingent on Walbro's retaining and creating 900 jobs by the end of 1998. If that employment goal is reached, Connecticut will convert the $3.4 million loan portion of the $9.9 million to a direct grant.
The lure of 350 jobs at the new molding plant led to the interesting financing alliance of a molder and several government entities, according to Randy Kamenbeek, the city's economic development director.