Steering toward Michigan

Eric Shreffler

Sunday, October 25, 2015

India-based Sakthi expands light-weight materials facility, revamps vacant buildings in Detroit

$31.9-million investment part of creating 350 new jobs

With an ambitious plant expansion and innovative plan to reuse buildings in Detroit, India-based Sakthi Automotive Group is redefining the range and impact of foreign direct investment in Michigan.

The $31.9-million plant expansion on West Fort Street, a few blocks from the Detroit River, is expected to create 350 jobs. The investment is supported by a $3.5-million performance-based grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund, approved in April. Eventually, the plant will produce 90 percent of the company’s aluminum castings.

Sakthi Automotive is part of the Sakthi Group, a billion-dollar industrial conglomerate and one of the fastest-growing business groups in south India. A major supplier to automotive OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) of safety critical automotive components, Sakthi Automotive produces steering knuckles, controls arms, brake drums, brake discs, hubs, brake calipers and carriers.

The auto supplier received a $1.5 million Michigan Business Development Program grant in 2012 to establish the Detroit location, a former ArvinMeritor plant.

Michigan was selected for the expansion in a competition with Ohio, Georgia and South Carolina.

"We see so much opportunity in Detroit." -–Lalit Verma, CEO, Satkthi Automotive

In addition to developing the current location, Sakthi aims to renovate several vacant buildings near the Fort Street site, including the former Detroit Southwestern High School. Tentatively, plans call for $10 million redevelopment to be spent on revamping buildings, including creating office space, warehousing and educational community outreach programs. 

Investment into the renovated vacant buildings site could reach $30 million as the company anticipates additional trade with the construction of the new international trade crossing bridge, Satkthi CEO Lalit Verma told Crain’s Detroit Business (May 7, 2015). 

"We see so much opportunity in Detroit," he said. "We have good support, are finding good people and are finding the success to help rewrite this city's history." 

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