New lightweight metals institute to base headquarters in Detroit

DETROIT - Detroit's Corktown has landed a $148 million investment as the new location for the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute's new headquarters.

Co-led by the University of Michigan, Ohio-based manufacturing technology nonprofit EWI and Ohio State University, ALMMII is a public-private partnership that will open this fall to create a "regional manufacturing ecosystem" that will produce lightweight metals for the commercial and military sections that deal with cars, trucks and planes.

"Detroit's renewed energy and revitalization efforts mesh perfectly with the goals of ALMMII, making the city an ideal spot for its headquarters," UM President Mark Schlissel said. "This is an exciting next step in the university's longstanding relationship with Detroit, at a time of great importance."

ALMMII is one of four centers of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, which is a White House initiative to boost the nation's competitiveness in the field.

Over the next five years, the institute will receive $70 million in funding from the federal government with another $78 million coming from the consortium partners themselves.

Inside a vacant 107,000-square-foot plant, the building will contain new offices, meeting rooms and laboratories for its workers to test new technologies.  Before that, the vacant plant was occupied by Mexican Industries, a company that made plastic moldings for the auto industry until it filed for bankruptcy in 2001.

Being in the city of Detroit, its location will help it work with many key partners like Focus: HOPE, Macomb Community College, Michigan State University, Wayne State University and Michigan Tech, among others groups to work together to find new manufacturing methods and help students with internships and research projects.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said having the new high tech hub in Detroit gives the city a chance to compete for huge manufacturing investments.

"To win a competitive process for a project of national significance is a major win for the city of Detroit," Duggan said. "Detroiter's should expect to see us win a lot more in the future."

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