KLA breaks ground on its flagship $150M Ann Arbor campus

230,000-square-foot campus will house 600 employees

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, CEO and President Rick Wallace (center), KLA board members, executives and stakeholders break ground on its new headquarters site in Ann Arbor on Oct. 4, 2019. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – California-based capital equipment company KLA held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning at the planned site for its second headquarters.

Company executives, politicians, local stakeholders and members of Ann Arbor's tech community gathered at the wooded site just east of U.S.-23 in the Ann Arbor Technology Park for the event. 

The land in Ann Arbor Township, purchased from the University of Michigan for $26.7 million, will house a 230,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility designed by Ann Arbor-based architecture firm SmithGroup. The total investment in the headquarters is $150 million.

KLA's Ann Arbor team, executives, and local stakeholders pose for a photo during the groundbreaking ceremony for its new headquarters on Oct. 4, 2019. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner)


KLA plans open its newest North American campus in two years and expand its workforce to 600 employees at the site within the next three to four years. Ann Arbor was chosen over 389 other U.S. sites for the company's new research and development hub.

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KLA President and CEO Rick Wallace is a University of Michigan alum and has been involved with the School of Engineering for the past decade.

KLA president and CEO Rick Wallace speaks during the company's groundbreaking ceremony in Ann Arbor on Oct. 4, 2019. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner)

"What really drove it for me is when I was graduating from U of M, I knew I was going to move and I liked Ann Arbor and I didn't really want to move," said Wallace. "And so, I always thought, if you had compelling work here, there's a lot of talent that actually wants to stay here.

"We thought we'd have the access to a lot of engineering talent in the Midwest in a place that people like to live. So, if we could make that investment, I thought we could satisfy our need both for additional talent, but also have a place that people are excited about living and more affordable for them, more affordable for us."

KLA's current headquarters is in Milpitas, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, where costs continue to climb.

Credit: Meredith Bruckner

Wallace said growth at KLA's temporary R&D facility has been steady since it opened in June with plans to hire on 100 people by the end of the year.

But it's not just U-M graduates who are interested in the new Ann Arbor location.

"We've had people inquiring from California about moving here," said Wallace. "For a lot of people, they want to be where there's a lot of activity, and that's why we're re-classing it as a second headquarters."

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Rick Wallace and a member of U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell's staff speak during KLA's groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 4, 2019. (Credit: Meredith Bruckner)

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II said he is proud that is building such a large footprint in the state of Michigan.

"I am proud, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is proud, that you chose the state of Michigan, the state that has the highest concentration of engineering talent than anywhere in the country," said Gilchrist. "I know that KLA is an innovative company, well, Michigan is an innovative state. I'm proud to be here to represent the state of Michigan and say thank you, say welcome, say good luck and we're going to be there with you every step of the way to make sure this is going to be successful."

To learn more about KLA, visit www.kla-tencor.com.

This story was sponsored by Ann Arbor SPARK.

About Ann Arbor SPARK
Ann Arbor SPARK, a nonprofit organization, is advancing the region by encouraging and supporting business acceleration, attraction and retention. The organization identifies and meets the needs of business at every stage, from startups to large organizations. Ann Arbor SPARK collaborates with business, academic, government and community investor partners. For more information, call 734-761-9317 or visit www.AnnArborUSA.org.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.