Sakthi To Build New Detroit Manufacturing Campus


Sakthi Automotive, a leading global Tier 1 manufacturer, announced plans to renovate the former Detroit Southwestern High School into a manufacturing campus and training center for new engineers that will house 650 employees. This $31 million investment is an extension of Sakthi’s ever-growing presence in Detroit.

The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) has been involved with Sakthi since 2012, when the manufacturer first considered bringing $25 million in investment and 170 new jobs to Detroit to manufacture safety critical automotive components. DEGC went on to assist Sakthi in moving into its current location on West Fort Street which led to 480 additional new jobs and a significant expansion of that facility.

Sakthi estimates it will have invested nearly $70 million in southwest Detroit by the year 2020.

Sakthi is a model corporate citizen. Chairman Mahalingum Manickam and CEO Lalit Kumar believe in hiring Detroit residents, training them in advanced manufacturing and doing the company’s part to support basic needs like healthy food and childcare. Sakthi also hopes to partner with other local causes such as Focus: HOPE to assist the community.

Several DEGC Partners were instrumental in making the Sakthi investment possible: the City of Detroit, including Mayor Duggan’s Office, the Detroit City Council, and various additional City departments; the State of Michigan, including Governor Snyder’s Office, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Michigan Strategic Fund; and the leadership of the Detroit Public Schools.

Brian Holdwick
Real Estate and Financial Services

DEGC Reorganizes, Hires to Meet Detroit’s Economic Growth


A staff reorganization including several promotions and three new positions was announced this month by DEGC President and CEO Rodrick Miller to more effectively deliver DEGC’s core services of business development, real estate development and small business support given current market conditions and landscapes.

Kenneth Chapa, formerly economic development project manager for the city of Mesa, Arizona, will be DEGC’s new executive vice president of business development. He is responsible for overseeing all corporate attraction, retention and expansion efforts for the organization, and for bringing in new investment and business opportunities to the city of Detroit.

In addition to Chapa, Regina Bell was hired as special advisor to the CEO. Bell has extensive public policy experience, working for the governor of Michigan and in other posts. Most recently she served as director of community-based initiatives for Digerati and as executive director for Intern in Michigan.

Virginia Wilkinson was also hired as director of strategy and research. Wilkinson has substantial planning and analysis experience in demographics, urban policy, natural resources and sustainability, with a specific interest in social and economic equality and mass transit.

Other key changes at DEGC include:

  • Olga Stella to chief operating officer from vice president, business development. She continues to oversee DEGC’s key small business development initiatives and programs such as D2D, Green Grocer and Motor City Match.
  • Malinda Jensen to vice president, business development from director of business development. She will continue to oversee business attraction and retention in targeted industries such as manufacturing, IT and retail.
  • Art Papapanos to senior vice president and chief board administration officer from vice president, board administration. He will continue to administer city of Detroit public authorities.
  • Kenyetta Hairston Bridges to director of business development and small business programs from associate director of business development.
  • Jennifer Kanalos to director of brownfield redevelopment from brownfield redevelopment program manager.
  • Tim Miles to director of construction management from senior project manager.
  • Kelly Shovan to controller from assistant controller.

“As the pace of Detroit’s economic revival continues to accelerate, we have to accommodate the needs of new businesses as well as those that have been here through thick and thin,” Miller said.

“The new structure does all that, as well as maintain the strong support we provide to the city of Detroit’s public authorities and key infrastructure projects we are managing,” Miller added.

Tiffini D. Smith
Director of Communications

DDA Approves Event Center Construction Subcontracts


Three subcontracts for the new Events Center project were recently approved by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The subcontracts were awarded to:

  • Midwest Steel, Inc., for structural steel ($50,676, 641)
  • Rohrscheib Sons Caissons, Inc., for drilled shafts ($2,745,000)
  • BAM Construction Services for below-grade waterproofing ($2,165,600)

The three bids are below the construction estimates and the companies have agreed to comply with the Business & Workforce Participation Plan for the project. Two of the companies are located in Detroit, and Rohrscheib Sons has agreed to subcontract 38 percent of its work to three Detroit-based businesses.

Under the terms of the Concession Management Agreement (CMA) between the DDA and Olympia Development of Michigan (ODM), the DDA has the right to approve the subcontracts between ODM’s general contractor Barton Mallow-Hunt Joint Venture in association with White Construction Co. and subcontractor amounts over $500,000.

Tim Miles
Director of Project Management