Last week’s news that state grant funding would help bring a new tenant to the former Keihin Michigan Manufacturing plant in Capac was welcome and surprising. Considering the current state of the economy and uncertainty that comes with inflation and workforce and supply chain challenges, there’s not been a lot of business expansion news locally. Mergers, acquisitions and closures have been more of the norm lately for companies like Imlay City’s Champion Bus and Almont’s Grabill Windows & Doors.
Despite those trends, it appears that the current state of the automotive industry could be a boon to local manufacturing and what drove Axiom’s decision to establish its first U.S. plant in Capac. There’s high consumer demand for new vehicles and experts predict it will take several years for production to catch up with that demand. The plant’s size and age certainly help in an investment like this. The region’s proximity to Ontario also likely played into the Canadian-based company’s decision and certainly, more than $1 million in performance-based grant dollars likely gave this project the financial boost it needed.
Despite those positives, one wonders how the employment situation will work. Just a few years ago the promise of more than 200 new jobs would have been huge news but with not enough workers to full many of the open positions that already exist today in manufacturing, Axiom’s biggest challenge might be finding enough help to fulfill the new contracts that have made this expansion possible. According to the state of Michigan, St. Clair County ranks 15th in the state for the lowest unemployment at four percent and Lapeer County’s not far behind at 4.5 percent as of April 2022.
It’s always satisfying to report positive business news for the Tri-City area and we’re glad that Axiom has chosen the Capac area to invest in. Despite the challenges they and other companies are facing today, we wish them the best of luck in their new venture.