BURTON, MI – The process began with a phone call at 7 a.m. Dec 22.
That’s when Rik Hayman, chief of staff for Burton Mayor Paula Zelenko, received an urgent message.
The voice on the other end was Steve Black, former Bay City deputy city manager of community development.
“Rik make sure you take that call from Northpoint Development. They’re out of Kansas City. They’re great people,” recalled Zelenko of the message. “They’re serious, they work hard, they’re easier to work with and they work fast.”
Less than 24 hours later, two Northpoint Development representatives were in her office at Burton City Hall discussing the potential of a new $65 million AC Delco and Genuine GM parts processing facility at Genesee and Davison roads.
It’s taken nearly six months for the purchase of 141 acres by Northpoint Development, approval of a tax abatement, and closed lips from city officials on the company’s name, but work has started on a 1.1 million-square-foot warehouse and distribution facility. Mayor Paula Zelenko said Monday night that the 141-acre parcel recently purchased by Riverdale, Missouri-based NorthPoint Development for $268,000 for development by General Motors LLC.
City and GM officials held a groundbreaking ceremony at Burton City Hall Wednesday, June 20, as construction workers began tearing out shrubs and trees at the site on the city’s north side.
Lisa Veneziano, executive director of GM’s global aftersales supply chain, warehousing and logistics, said the investment marks the automotive company’s largest single investment in a new warehousing and distribution center in the United State in nearly 40 years.
The investment will more than double the size of GM’s existing Davison Road parts processing center and move the 720 jobs from that facility to new location by early 2019.
However, the company has not said if any new jobs will be created for the facility.
General Motors received an industrial facilities exemption certificate that allows for a 50 percent tax abatement at a new or replacement facility for no more than 12 years.
The company has signed a 12.5-year lease agreement with Northpoint Development for use of the facility.
“When all the work on the site is done in about 10 months, we will deliver a facility this community can be proud of,” said Tim Turvey, global vice president of GM’s customer care and aftersales.
Three locations in the state were targeted for the development, but Veneziano said the existing relationship with the city and logistics for inbound and outbound shipments all played factors in the decision-making process.
While the move comes with no new jobs at this time, Veneziano said: “Our goal is to grow the business.” The news comes less than 24 hours after city council members approved an industrial facilities exemption certificate Monday night for the company that would provide a 12-year tax abatement on real property taxes.
“We would love nothing more to have more employment than we have today,” she added.
Zelenko, a former AC Spark Plug employee and member of UAW 651, was hopeful this move was a step forward in the city’s economic development. “Burton was hit especially hard during the recession. Property values plummeted, local and state shared revenues were cut and we lost over 40 percent of our revenues. We also lost 30 percent of our workforce to retirements, or relocations, or new employers,” she added.
“Despite all the struggles that we’ve had over the last 10 years, we are moving forward and we are recovering. It’s painfully slow, but we are recovering,” Zelenko said. “This General Motors facility is the shot in the arm that we need that is going to boost not just the economy here in Burton but the entire region.”