Ann Arbor, Mich. — Wacker Chemical Corp. will build a new $51 million innovation center and regional headquarters for its North American operations in Michigan.
The company, which has been considering construction of a new location for quite some time, expects to be operational at the site starting in 2022.
The new project, in Pittsfield Charter Township near Ann Arbor, is expected to add 70 new jobs over time, according to the state of Michigan.
Capacity at the new headquarters will be more than 300 employees, which will include workers relocating from Wacker's current regional headquarters in Adrian, Mich., as well as the new jobs to be created over the next five years.
"The location is going to be heavily focused on innovation and R&D, and the jobs we will be looking for will be focused in that area," a Wacker spokeswoman said. "We're an innovative company. We're looking for the latest in technology leaders. We're excited about the talent in that community."
The company expects to move about 225 employees from Adrian beginning in the second quarter of 2022. There will be capacity for about 300 workers at the new site, and the company expects to add to the employment ranks in the years to come.
"We do plan to expand in the coming years. Our current headquarters are onsite with our operations in Adrian," the spokeswoman said. "We're definitely maintaining our operations there. But we also had moved into that location in 1965. It was time to look for a new headquarters location for the region."
Manufacturing of elastomers, silicone fluids and silicone emulsions will continue in Adrian as about two-thirds of that location's current employees will remain there.
Michigan competed against locations in Tennessee and Ohio for the new project, the state said.
"Michigan really has one of the best talent bases in the nation in terms of just the potential for recruiting for our technical positions and our R&D focus. I think if we would have to say, that would be the ultimate driver" in electing to stay close to home, the spokeswoman said.
This will allow the company to network and recruit from what CEO David Wilhoit described in a statement as a "highly educated and skilled talent base."
"Our new facility will enable future growth in the state and serve as an important anchor for our operations across North America. This area is one of the nation's leading communities for R&D," he said.
Wacker is receiving a $1 million grant from the Michigan Business Development Program through the Michigan Strategic Fund as part of the project. Pittsfield Charter Township, located just south of Ann Arbor, is providing a 50-percent property tax cut to attract the new construction.
Silicones are a major business line for Munich-based Wacker, accounting for about half of the company's overall global sales. Sectors served include automotive engineering, construction, chemicals, cosmetics, medical technology, energy, electronics, paper and textiles, the company said.
"We're planning to break ground this calendar year, moving very quickly. We've been ready to go for a little while," the Wacker spokeswoman said.
Michigan-based Wacker Chemical is part of Wacker Chemie A.G., a specialty chemicals company based in Munich with locations throughout the world. Silicone-based products make up about 70 percent of sales with ethylene-related products accounting for the remainder. While the company provides materials to a variety of industries, the automotive and construction sectors are "particularly strong," the company said.