Writer: Kim Kisner

Fortescue Plans Renovation of Former Fisher Body Plant for Mobility Products

Published On March 12, 2024

The former Fisher Body Plant on Piquette Avenue in Detroit has been chosen by Fortescue, a global green energy and metals company, as the location for its first U.S. Advanced Manufacturing Center. The facility will bring roughly 560 manufacturing and engineering jobs to the area focused on the production of automotive and heavy industry batteries, hydrogen generators, fast chargers, and electrolyzers.

The project received incentives from The Michigan Strategic Fund, including a $9 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant; a 15-year, 100% State Essential Services Assessment exemption valued at $1,300,950; and state tax capture valued at $2,374,413, for reimbursement of brownfield activities at the site.

The project also is requesting $5,247,422 in tax-increment financing from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to assist with environmental-eligible activities.

SBN Detroit interviewed Josh Hundt, MEDC’s Executive Vice President and Chief Project Marketing Advisor, about the role Fortescue will play in Michigan.

Josh Hundt C1 150x150

Q: Fortescue chose Detroit Michigan for its first U.S. Advanced Manufacturing Center. What do you think this says about Southeast Michigan in terms of sustainability and manufacturing?

A: It says that Michigan and Detroit are at the global epicenter of the mobility industry. Having put the world on wheels 120 years ago, Detroit is the birthplace of the automotive industry and it is also the industry’s future.

This also clearly points to the fact that companies have a desire and need to be in Detroit for these types of opportunities.

Q: Tell me about Fortescue.

A: Fortescue is a global green energy company that plans to breed manufacturing practices and clean energy growth through its center here. Its goal is to be the number one green tech and metals company in the world.

Q: What role did MEDC play in bringing Fortescue to Detroit?

A: MEDC helps to grow companies already in the state while attracting new businesses to Michigan. Fortescue looked at 99 sites across twelve states, considering many variables such as labor cost, availability, cost of business, speed to come to market, and more. We’ve worked with them since they announced their decision to build in the U.S. to secure the right space for them in Michigan.

Q: Fortescue’s CEO, Mark Hutchinson, said, “Fortescue’s Advanced Manufacturing Center will breathe fresh life into the birthplace of the automotive industry.” What are your thoughts on this?

A: Michigan, Detroit, and the old Fisher Body Plant are all steeped in automotive heritage and legacy, and we can utilize that legacy of engineering, and research and development, and manufacturing to build the future of clean energy, advanced manufacturing, and mobility.

This is an opportunity to move the industry, state, and community forward.

Q: Why Detroit?

A: Fortescue can leverage the 120 years of experience we have in Detroit to build a bridge to the future. Nearly three-quarters of U.S. automotive research and development takes place in Michigan. We lead the production of EV battery production. We have an existing supply chain and strong industry here.

Fortescue also strongly considered ‘place.’ This community is in the midst of a transformation in terms of how investment is happening, and it’s a community of people who are skilled and educated to fill the roles the company will need.

Q: How do you think Fortescue will impact other businesses in Southeast Michigan?

A: Every time we see a company make an investment like this, it has a strong ripple effect on the industry, city, and region. This demonstrates that companies from around the world see Detroit as the future of mobility and advanced manufacturing.

Fortescue will create 560 new jobs and is making a $210 million investment. This will help increase property values, and it’s an opportunity to develop the supply chain much further. This is great news for the industry and the community.

Q: How do you think it will impact the economy?

A: First it will create 560 jobs.

Second, it furthers Michigan’s strength in the mobility sector while highlighting that we are the center for advanced manufacturing and clean energy.

Third, this investment will also bring new tax revenue and new opportunities for suppliers to have growth occur here in Detroit.

And finally, their presence will impact restaurants and venues in and around the community for additional growth.

Q: What role do you think Fortescue will play when it comes to sustainability in Southeast Michigan?

A: I think the biggest thing is the role they play in showing leadership – demonstrating that a company can have a great economic impact with job creation and investment and do it in a way that also puts sustainability and the environment at the forefront.

And, their choice to renovate and utilize the old Fisher Body Plant speaks volumes because it shows that a facility can be reimagined and transformed for the future. This is an investment in a century-old building being leveraged to take us forward.

Q: What does the future of Southeast Michigan look like with Fortescue as a part of it?

A: Fortescue will be part of a strong mobility landscape and a part of the overall story of how Southeast Michigan is positioned to remain the global leader of the mobility industry.

We’ve seen the success of projects around innovation and investments – like Nel and Plastic Omnium – that have positively impacted Southeast Michigan.

This is a project that will put people in sustainable jobs, revitalize the area, boost the economy, and facilitate green energy for the future. It is a win for everyone.


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