Pakistani-American auto supplier makes one of the largest investments in Detroit

Shahid Khan says Ford was the 'great impetus' behind locating the plant in Detroit and said it aims to employ locals


Reuters April 25, 2017
Owner and businessman Shahid Khan, stands alongside an artist's rendering of the Flex-N-Gate manufacturing facility during a ground breaking ceremony at the site in the I-94 Industrial Park in Detroit, Michigan, US, April 24, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

DETROIT: US auto parts maker Flex-N-Gate, owned by Pakistan-born Shahid Khan, will build a plant in Detroit in what local officials described on Monday as the first new investment by an automotive supplier in decades for Motor City, the cradle and former beating heart of the car industry.

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"This is the largest automotive supplier investment in Detroit in more than 20 years," Mayor Mike Duggan said at a groundbreaking ceremony under a light blue spring sky on Detroit's northeast side. "We're starting to compete and win again."

Urbana, Illinois-based Flex-N-Gate will invest $95 million in the plant, which will employ 400 to 700 people and supply parts to Ford Motor Co. It is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2018.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, speaks during a ground breaking ceremony for a Flex-N-Gate manufacturing facility within the I-94 Industrial Park in Detroit, Michigan, US, April 24, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, speaks during a ground breaking ceremony for a Flex-N-Gate manufacturing facility within the I-94 Industrial Park in Detroit, Michigan, US, April 24, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Khan said Ford was the "great impetus" behind locating the plant in Detroit and said it aims to employ locals. Workers would earn up to US$27 per hour including benefits and the plant will use state-of-the-art automated technology "in order to pay people a living wage," he said.

The supplier makes plastic exterior parts, especially front ends, and headlights. A Ford spokesperson said the company would not provide "specific production details at this time" on which models the plant's parts would be used.

Pakistan-born Khan, who also owns the National Football League's Jacksonville Jaguars, came to the United States decades ago to study mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois.

Flex-N-Gate owner and businessman Shahid Khan [L], greets Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan before a groundbreaking ceremony for a Flex-N-Gate manufacturing facility in the I-94 Industrial Park in Detroit, Michigan, US, April 24, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS Flex-N-Gate owner and businessman Shahid Khan [L], greets Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan before a groundbreaking ceremony for a Flex-N-Gate manufacturing facility in the I-94 Industrial Park in Detroit, Michigan, US, April 24, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

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The plight of American manufacturing, as well as immigration, were the focus of Republican President Donald Trump's election campaign. Trump has criticized automakers for building cars in Mexico and talked up announcements of US investments by Ford, GM and FCA, including some that had been announced before he took office.

Khan said the decision to invest in Detroit predated Trump's presidency. But he said that in the US automotive industry today, "you have to have a social conscience. You can do that and still make investments like this."

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COMMENTS (14)

Noor Ul Haq | 4 years ago | Reply Good Job
Kamran | 4 years ago | Reply @Pakistani: Pakistani-American in news for a good cause. Instead of celebrating that the news media is finally covering it, you are complaining about it.
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