While Ford Motor Company continues to weather the auto manufacturing crisis, it is also helping to lead Michigan out of the recession with green jobs and opportunities. Last week, the auto-making giant announced that it entered into a partnership under which a Ford plant no longer being used to manufacture vehicles will be converted into a renewable energy park.
The 320-acre plant in Wixom, Michigan will soon be home to solar and wind manufacturing – operational as early as 2011. Green Tech companies Xtreme Power, Clairvoyant Energy and Oerlikon Solar may redevelop the Ford site into a thin-film solar factory, an enormous 1 million square foot energy storage and renewable energy training center.
The Wixom assembly plant has been closed about 2 1/2 years:
Under the agreement, Ford will sell the plant to Xtreme Power and Clairovoyant Energy. About half of the site will be leased to other renewable companies, and the rest retained for their own uses.
This wonderful example of recycling should set the stage for future deals. Considering the fact that the property is already developed with a manufacturing plant, it makes perfect sense that the de-commissioned Ford plant is renovated for other uses.
The purchasers get a great deal because they’re not starting from scratch. From purchasing raw property, to pulling permits to construction… Xtreme Power and Clairvoyant Energy have likely saved themselves millions of dollars, and months of operational time.
From an environmental standpoint, it makes sense too. Property zoned industrial is intensively used and is not usually sited near residential areas. Any city or county planner will tell you that maintaining adequate industrial zoning inventory can be difficult. So, when one manufacturer moves out, it is ideal to pass the torch as Ford has done here. Recycling the Ford plant into a renewable energy park is a win-win for both the new owners and the state of Michigan/City of Wixom.
An estimated 4,000 new jobs will be created by the conversion: welcome news in the state of Michigan, which has the highest unemployment rate in the country. (As an aside, the Ford plant only employed 1,000 workers when it shuttered in 2007).
To help offset the $725 million price tag, the Michigan legislature approved $100 million in tax credits. Additional federal loan guarantees, manufacturing tax credits and other incentives for brownfield renovation will be sought, as well.
The reincarnation of the Ford Wixom plant into a renewable energy campus will be exciting to witness. We’re betting that other industrial sites will also be “recycled” in a similar manner in the months and years ahead.