Robotics Company Coming to Detroit’s Corktown with MEDC Support

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. in Lansing has announced state support for two business expansion projects expected to create up to 155 new jobs and generate a total private investment of $12 million in the cities of Detroit and Fenton.
517
Miller Industries in Fenton is expected to generate a total capital investment of $11 million and create 115 jobs. // Courtesy of Miller Industries
Miller Industries in Fenton is expected to generate a total capital investment of $11 million and create 115 jobs. // Courtesy of Miller Industries

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. in Lansing has announced state support for two business expansion projects expected to create up to 155 new jobs and generate a total private investment of $12 million in the cities of Detroit and Fenton.

Established in Norway in 2013, Wheel.me is a robotics company that has created the world’s first autonomous wheel. The company’s smart wheels can turn almost anything into an autonomous robot, enabling businesses to automate their existing operations and improve automated material handling in manufacturing, logistics, warehouse operations, and elsewhere. The company has 75 employees worldwide.

The company launched the first prototype of its autonomous robots in 2018, and is in the process of opening operations in a leased facility at Ford Motor Co.’s emerging Michigan Central mobility innovation district in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

The office will house sales, operations, and supply chain activities to support customers throughout North America. The company’s future plans also include constructing a manufacturing facility in Michigan.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $1 million and create 40 high-wage jobs, supported by a $240,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. Wheel.me chose Michigan over competing sites in other states due to Michigan’s leadership in automotive manufacturing and proximity to the company’s stakeholders.

The project builds on the state’s work to position itself as the global leader in high-tech innovation and the future of mobility while helping to ensure the company’s long-term viability and future investment in Michigan.

“Wheel.me is very grateful for the support from the Michigan Business Development Program. We are excited to create highly qualified jobs, help local businesses improve their competitiveness and create long term value with our unique technology,” says Noraas Bendvold, U.S. director of Wheel.me. “We are looking forward to work closely with our great partners in the region, and welcome both local talent, SMEs, and large companies to reach out to us.”

In support of the project, the Detroit Regional Partnership is offering a promotional video and in-kind support including recruitment strategies, marketing support, and introduction to talent recruitment and training providers.

Individuals interested in careers with wheel.me should visit wheel.me/join-us.

“There’s a reason why international companies like Wheel.me pick Detroit — we are at the center of advanced mobility and revolutionizing how the world moves,” says Maureen Donohue Krauss, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Partnership. “Attracting Wheel.me is a big win for the region as they are pioneering cutting-edge autonomous wheel technology and offer first-of-their-kind mobility solutions to businesses. Michigan Central and the Book Depository are very quickly proving to be a magnet for world-class innovators.”

In Fenton Township (south of Flint), Miller Industries, a subsidiary of Miller Industries Holdings that specializes in custom steel fabrication and air supply systems and sales, continues to experience increased sales and plans to expand at its Fenton Township headquarters, where it will add manufacturing, warehouse, and office space.

The company represents numerous national companies in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning applications. Miller Industries currently employs 150 Michigan residents. The expansion will also allow for extra capacity and high bays along with mechanical cranes.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $11 million and create 115 jobs, supported by a $450,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. Michigan was chosen for the project over competing sites in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.

“Miller Industries is a family-owned company serving both local and international clients from its homebase in Genesee County,” says Tyler Rossmaessler, executive director of the Flint and Genesee Economic Alliance. “This is a great example of a business that has found success in leveraging our region’s workforce and strong business climate. We are excited that they have decided to expand their footprint in Fenton Township and are here to support their continued growth and investment in our community.”

Fenton Township has offered a property tax abatement in support of the project and also plans to support the company with staff time and resources. For information on careers with Miller Industries, visit here.

“The decisions by Wheel.me to establish its North American operations in Detroit and Miller Industries to expand in Fenton highlight the enduring strength of Michigan’s value proposition: talented workforce, diverse ecosystem of potential customers and suppliers, and the business environment focused on long-term economic growth,” says Quentin L. Messer Jr., CEO of the MEDC and president and chairman of the board of the Michigan Strategic Fund.