Shortly after Whirlpool Corporation announced a capital investment of $60 million to rehabilitate and reconstruct its Global Laundry and Dishwasher Technical Center in St. Joseph, Michigan, the appliance maker announced it would invest $20 million more in nearby Benton Harbor — in housing. In St. Joseph, the new Technical Center will involve the demolition of a four-story building, construction of a new facility and renovation of the existing space that will remain. The current and future buildings are to be used as office space and laboratory testing of pre-manufactured home appliances. Whirlpool Corporation will retain 400 full-time engineering, research and development, and administrative support positions.
In June, Whirlpool announced through a partnership with Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment LLC, that it plans to invest more than $20 million to construct a multi-family development in Benton Harbor with the support of the Michigan Strategic Fund and its approval of a Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant in the amount of $750,000 for the project and relevant road improvements.
“This project would not be possible without the collaboration of so many, including Mayor Muhammad and the City of Benton Harbor, the Benton Harbor Planning Commission, the MEDC and Cornerstone Alliance, and is a testament to what we can accomplish when we all work together to achieve our shared goals,” said Whirlpool Corporation Chairman and CEO Marc Bitzer. “By working with our communities on projects such as this one, we can all benefit, and are all collectively more successful as a result.”
Positive Business Impacts
The multi-family development will have 80 apartments and 120 parking spaces, which is anticipated to result in $22 million in total capital investment in the city of Benton Harbor. By coupling the investment in new housing units with the redevelopment and additional investment of $60 million in the company’s Global Laundry and Dishwasher Technical Center, Whirlpool will be able to generate positive business impacts, including the ability to attract and retain needed talent while offering housing options.
“This entire project began with a conversation I had with Whirlpool Chairman and CEO Marc Bitzer when he first approached me to discuss his plans to create a Racial Equality Pledge to increase Black representation among the workforce and in leadership positions at Whirlpool Corporation,” said Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad. “At that time, I asked him to consider making this investment into the city of Benton Harbor to grow our city and create a place that welcomes all people to live in our community, including underrepresented minority colleagues who will be joining Whirlpool. This waterfront facility can be the magnet to attract a diverse set of residents, proud to call Benton Harbor home.”
Mark Arend has been editor in chief of Site Selection magazine since 2001. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.