- Renovation and new construction of the St. Joseph Tech Center would be a multi-year, multi-phase project, beginning in 2021 and concluding in 2023
- All global product technology centers are located in Michigan’s Great Southwest
- Part of the plan includes creation of a residential, commercial, recreational and commerce area linking nearly 4,000 Whirlpool employees with St. Joseph, Benton Harbor and Benton Charter Township
BENTON HARBOR, Mich., (April 29, 2021) — Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE: WHR) is exploring options to rebuild or renovate its Global Technology Center in St. Joseph, Michigan, near the company’s Global and North American Headquarters in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The new facility would replace much or all of the existing St. Joseph Technology Center, parts of which are more than 100 years old.
“This is an important project for Berrien County and the region,” said Berrien County Community Development Director Dan Fette. “Having a strong Whirlpool presence here means excellent job opportunities and vibrant economic activity. We are working closely with representatives of Whirlpool Corporation on ways to partner in order to make this project a local reality. The City, county and state officials have been extremely supportive in our conversations about the significance of this major investment.” The plan is currently under consideration by the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and City of St. Joseph.
President and CEO of the Cornerstone Alliance Rob Cleveland helped to develop his organization’s five-year strategic plan for economic development, and sees ties to that plan within this project. “This is about jobs and supporting ongoing, healthy investments in our community,” said Cleveland. “This project meets all of those criteria, and we are excited at the possibility of this proposal moving forward.”
Chairman of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners, Mac Elliott, is also supportive of the project. “For 110 years Whirlpool has been an innovative driving force in our local economy. This proposed development is a continuation of the strong and valued partnership that Berrien County, the City of St. Joseph, along with Benton Harbor and Benton Charter Township and Whirlpool Corporation, have shared for a century, and signifies our ongoing commitment to help grow our economy.”
As the world’s leading kitchen and laundry appliance company, Whirlpool Corporation does business in almost every country around the world, with 57 manufacturing and technology research centers globally. Proposals for new construction at the existing St. Joseph site include a possible 150,000 sq. ft. of new construction with an investment of approximately $50 million.
“In this, our 110th year of operation, we know it is necessary to modernize this facility to remain the leader in our industry,” said Whirlpool Corporation VP of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Jeff Noel. “Competition in the home appliance industry is fierce, it’s global, and our talented people help our company take on new challenges we face every day. Ensuring we have world-class testing and product development labs will help us remain competitive and attract and retain highly qualified talent.”
Currently, Whirlpool Corporation employs upwards of 4,000 full-time employees and contractors in Southwest Michigan, nearly 400 of whom are based at the St. Joseph Technical Center. The appliance manufacturer is seeking local and state support along with tax abatements in order to make this project a reality, as it competes internally for funding with other global priorities for the company.
St. Joseph Mayor Michael Garey sees the benefits of a new technology center in the city. “Whirlpool Corporation is a tremendously positive influence on our city. We want to continue to see St. Joseph move forward, and part of that means doing what we can to make our area attractive to further development,” he said. “Whirlpool Corporation is a good community partner and reinvests back into our local community, either through philanthropic endeavors, or through expansion of its many facilities in the Twin Cities area.”