Flex-N-Gate to Build New Facility in Detroit

degc-detroit- growth-update_june_2016 FNG Kahn

Flex-N-Gate, a top global auto supplier headquartered in Illinois, will invest $95 million in construction and capital costs to build a facility in the I-94 Industrial Park that will supply parts to Ford Motor Company. The project will create at least 400 and up to 650 new jobs in Detroit over the next three years.

“This news is further evidence that the United States auto industry is strong, promising and experiencing exceptional growth,” said Shahid Khan, owner.  “Building a new plant from the ground up within the Detroit city limits will be a milestone moment for Flex-N-Gate, made possible thanks to our partnership and collaboration with Ford Motor Company, the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan.”

Flex-N-Gate has committed to meeting Detroit-based hiring and contracting thresholds outlined in Executive Orders 4 & 5 (2014) and to develop a comprehensive hiring plan in conjunction with the City’s Human Rights Department and Detroit Employment Solutions Corp., to help ensure jobs for Detroiters.

“Nothing is more important to our city than creating jobs for Detroiters,” said Mayor Duggan.  “The fact that Flex-N-Gate has committed to such a strong local hiring and contracting plan shows the company’s deep level of commitment to being a partner with the community.”

The 189-acre I-94 Industrial Park is under control of the Economic Development Corporation (EDC).  Since 2000, EDC has overseen the property acquisition, clean up and development of the land.  The Park’s first major new tenant, LINC Logistics, opened a new $30-million, $500,000-square-foot facility immediately adjacent to the Flex-N-Gate site earlier this year.

This new multi-layered investment provides a major boost to the I-94 Industrial Park, and is the culmination of a collaborative effort among the city of Detroit, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which administers incentives and programs on behalf of the Michigan Strategic Fund. MEDC also serves as the state’s chief business attraction and marketing agency along with directing the Pure Michigan campaign.

“The expansion of Flex-N-Gate’s presence in Michigan demonstrates the broad range of productive possibilities for private investors and job creators when local and state economic development teams work with one of the state’s bedrock automotive companies and a privately owned auto supplier,” said MEDC CEO Steve Arwood, who noted Flex-N-Gate is among 81 of the top global auto suppliers that have North American headquarters or tech centers in the state.

Malinda Jensen

Vice President, Business Development

Green Grocer Project Profile: Royal Fresh Market

degc-detroit- growth-update_june_2016 royalfreshmarket

Yet another Detroit-based grocery store has completed extensive renovations, putting the falsely described “Detroit as a food desert” myth to shame.

Royal Fresh Market’s $2.5 million total investment, including about $1 million in renovations, is one of the largest in the northwest Detroit grocer community to date. Renovations include new refrigeration cases, flooring and shelving – all purchased through Michigan businesses.

Co-owners Mark Zaitona and Ken Koester began the re-naming and renovation process of the 25,000 sq. ft. store in September 2014. Plans of a remodel and official name change occurred in the following months, and a decision was made to begin renovations in July 2015. They were completed in April 2016. Employees from the former store have remained with Royal Fresh Market and plans for hiring in the future are to be determined.

“We knew after purchasing the former Metro Foodland, some serious changes needed to be made to revitalize this ‘tired’ business,” Zaitona said. “We believe our goal of offering our customers a better shopping experience in a clean, modern environment while providing healthy, nutritious products has truly come to life with Royal Fresh Market.”

“All of this was made possible because of the great neighborhood in which we’re located and with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s support,” said Zaitona. “Everyone at DEGC was helpful and guided us to the right organizations to push this renovation forward. Both Ken and I hope our story shows that success like ours can be done in Detroit.”

The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s Green Grocer Project supports Detroit’s grocery economy through technical assistance, facade improvements and financing. The Green Grocer Project coordinated energy-efficient equipment rebates with DTE Energy and Local Incentives Support Corporation (LISC) financing.

“Royal Fresh Market has made a substantial investment in the northwest Detroit neighborhood,” Green Grocer Project Program Manager Mimi Pledl said. “The store is a beacon for this community, as all grocery stores should be.”

Royal Fresh is also exploring additional investments options in improving the store’s parking lot.


Mariangela (Mimi) Pledl

Green Grocer Project Program Manager

D2D Buyer Ready Business: Infinite Technologies LLC – Harold Lasenby, President and CEO

degc-detroit- growth-update_june_2016 D2D Buyer Ready Business- Infinite Technologies LLC  -  Harold Lasenby
Infinite Technologies LLC is a one-stop shop for technology needs in the Detroit community. The company’s three areas of focus include design/development of security surveillance systems, IT network/computer support and telephone system support. The 14-year-old business is led by President and CEO Harold Lasenby.

What is the history and background of Infinite Technologies?

Prior to founding Infinite Technologies I was involved in telecommunications for Ilitch Holdings Inc. and I noticed that there were not many smaller companies in the industry, and I wanted to change that. I launched Infinite Technologies to focus on supporting small- to medium-sized companies in a variety of technology facets. I wanted to provide technology counsel from conception to implementation to installation, taking our clients through that process in its entirety, and provide ongoing support going forward.


The company was founded with the belief that a highly skilled staff and strong leadership is the cornerstone of success. Infinite Technologies believes when technology is applied effectively, and with the customer’s business in mind, it helps the customer worry less about the solutions and more about their core business.


What are some of Infinite Technologies notable clients?

We work with a lot of health care organizations including DMC and Arcadia Healthcare. We also work with Charles H. Wright Museum and Covenant House of Michigan.


In 2007, we worked on Second Ebenezer Church $25M facility and were instrumental in designing, creating and supporting the church’s security systems, computer network/support and telephone services.


The services we provide to each client vary. Sometimes it’s a combination of our offerings and other times it is one isolated service. In most cases the uniqueness of what we do is that we’re an all-in-one service provider.


What is Infinite Technologies culture?

Although we’re smaller we’ve always been heavy into experience and many of our employees have 15 to 25 years’ industry experience. We value working with smaller companies; our expertise makes Infinite Technologies uniquely qualified


We work hard and go above and beyond for our clients, including 24/7 support. My staff prides itself on being diligent and customer-focused.


In fact, a majority of the Infinite Technologies staff are Detroiters, and many are veterans. We’ll continue to hire Detroiters and veterans and be an important resource here in the city.


Why did Infinite Technologies select Detroit as its headquarters?

I was born and raised here; I’m a product of Detroit public schools. I attended Michigan State University and I’ve worked in Detroit for over two decades. I wanted to build a company here in the city and support Detroit through thick and thin. As a Detroiter I’m delighted to have a business here and I also want to help other small Detroit-based companies.


What companies have you collaborated with in Detroit?

I’m affiliated with the Goldman Sachs 10000 Small Business, Detroit, so I have the opportunity to collaborate with many Detroit business. Infinite Technologies works with many community-based companies as well as larger commercial companies here in the city. We’re also a part of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council which provides a lot of opportunities as well. Lastly, we’re a part of D2D, which does a phenomenal job connecting Detroit businesses with one another.


What are the benefits of connecting with other Detroit businesses?

As a longstanding Detroit business it’s very fulfilling to grow with other companies and help each other out. It’s been an amazing experience to be a part of Detroit’s comeback alongside my mentors like SEEL, LLC and other local companies. We’re been an integral part of the city’s success when we (Detroit businesses) work together.




Brian Watkins

D2D Program Manager

Manufacturing Day brings students into factories for a look around


Students from Detroit Randolph Career and Technical H.S. at the Henry Ford College  M-TEC Center
Students from Detroit Randolph Career and Technical H.S. at the Henry Ford College M-TEC Center

Manufacturing companies throughout the U.S. have unfilled jobs for skilled workers, and Manufacturing Day aims to tell that story to students and parents by opening up factories for a one-day visit. In Wayne County there were an approximate 820 students that visited 13 locations. DEGC’s business development staff played a significant role in partnering with local organizations and companies to organize the participation for nearly 650 of the students.

By 2025, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will become available across the U.S., but 2 million may be left unfilled if the skilled labor shortage goes unchecked. Manufacturing Day helps build awareness of modern manufacturing, its rewarding careers and its role as an economic driver, among young people and the larger community.

Manufacturers in Metro Detroit, supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce Manufacturing Council, hosted government officials, business and community leaders, and 30 schoolchildren for a Manufacturing Day kickoff event at the Michigan Science Center. Throughout the day local manufacturers and training facilities welcomed middle and high school students at their sites to see firsthand the safe, high-tech and innovative work environments awaiting those who pursue manufacturing careers.

Among the participating organizations were the Ford Dearborn Plant, Magna Seating, Detroit Diesel, Detroit Chassis, DEGC, Detroit Manufacturing Systems, Focus: HOPE, General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant, Michigan Science Center, New Center Stamping, Shinola, Verndale Products, Plastic Omnium, Brose New Boston, Henry Ford M-Tec, Detroit Public Schools, SEMCA, Wayne RESA, and WIN – Workforce Intelligence Network.

Kenyetta Hairston Bridges
Business Development Manager


Tier One Supplier YFS Bringing Production and Research Facility to Detroit


Outsourcing to Detroit is becoming more and more of a reality. Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), working with the City of Detroit and Michigan Economic Development Corp., successfully facilitated a $1.3 million Michigan Strategic Fund Business Development Program performance-based grant to YFS Automotive Systems, a Chinese-based automotive supplier with U.S. headquarters in Gallatin, Tenn. The company expects to invest a total of $26.9 million in Detroit at a site that will be announced at a later date. 

YFS is planning to construct a 150,000 sq. ft. facility to design, test, and manufacture automotive fuel system components. It is expected to employ 50 people when it opens, and up to 160 at full capacity. The site will have room for a proposed 100,000 sq. ft. future expansion. YSF hopes to start production by July 2017.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said, “This is an important step for YFS and Detroit. Manufacturing investments can provide good opportunities for Detroiters, and Detroit has great potential for attracting more investments and creating even more jobs in the future.”

Rodrick T. Miller, CEO of DEGC said, “This significant investment by a Chinese manufacturer underscores Detroit’s global advantage as a hub of automotive research, design, and assembly.”

In addition to the support from Michigan Strategic Fund, YFS also expects to apply for a tax abatement from the Detroit City Council. It is also requesting assistance from Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC) to help it develop its workforce.

Tracie Tillinger
Business Development Manager