Updated: Food and beverage packaging maker Dart Container Corp. is spending more than $40 million on a technical and innovation center at its Michigan headquarters.
The new project is expected to create 136 new jobs at the new facility adjacent to Dart's existing corporate campus in Mason.
“We really want to make sure we position ourselves as strongly as we can to be innovative and bring new products to market that hopefully are meeting unmet needs or identified needs from our customer base,” Dart President Jim Lammers said in an Aug. 10 interview.
“Our investment in the new innovation and technology center is geared toward that. It's allowing us to consolidate into a single building on our Mason campus all of our engineering functions in terms of staff and also having about 170,000 square feet in the new building for having production and design of equipment for prototyping and other efforts,” he said.
The new two-story project will be situated on 38 acres in Alaiedon Township, adjacent to Dart's existing corporate campus. Along with the 170,000 square feet for “development and production of prototype packaging solutions,” Dart said, another 80,000 square feet will be for new offices.
Dart's Mason headquarters includes several buildings, and creation of new space will free existing square footage.
Part of the project involves renovating existing space to expand the company's tooling and machine manufacturing operations from 215,000 to 330,000 square feet.
“As a result of moving people and equipment into the new facility, we are freeing up additional space for our machinery manufacturing efforts so that will allow those efforts to have both greater space and capacity and will allow for a thoughtful layout of those operations,” Lammers said.
“We are comparatively more heavily vertically integrated than some others in our industry. One of the areas we've always had a lot of strength in has to do with our engineering, tooling and machine manufacturing capabilities,” he said.
That construction and renovation also will allow vacated space previously used by tooling and machine manufacturing to be used for storage and product manufacturing, Lammers said.
The new facility continues what the company calls significant investment in Michigan since Dart's 2012 acquisition of Solo Cup Co.
Dart, in the last five years, has spent more than $60 million in Mason and created more than 500 new jobs. That past work includes both a 500,000-square-foot distribution center and a 144,000-square-foot office facility. There also have been renovations to several other company facilities, Dart said.
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is providing a $1 million grant for the $40.2 million project. The company also will receive a tax abatement from Alaiedon Township.
“Dart Container's investment in the Lansing area means good jobs for Michigan residents that could well have gone to other states,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of the MEDC, in a statement. MEDC calls itself the state's marketing arm and lead advocate for business development.
Lammers indicated the new jobs will be created over the next two to five years and include a mix of positions, including technicians, engineers, trades workers and support staff.