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Wednesday, 27 March 2013 14:49

Newell Rubbermaid plans R&D site in Kalamazoo

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Newell Rubbermaid plans R&D site in Kalamazoo Courtesy rendering

KALAMAZOO — Newell Rubbermaid Inc. plans to open a design center in Kalamazoo, creating what Gov. Rick Snyder calls “well-paying” design jobs that pay an average of up to $80,000 annually.

The Atlanta, Ga.-based Newell Rubbermaid will move into a new design center built by Southwest Michigan First at Western Michigan University’s Business Technology and Research Park. The center will house R&D work for Newell Rubbermaid, which produces a wide range of commercial, consumer and household products.

“This is just another great statement that as we reinvent Michigan, we’re seeing good reinvestment in our state, but we are (also) attracting exciting companies that are leading-edge companies to come to our state,” Snyder said. “These are the kind of jobs that are the best you can get in any state.”

The Michigan Strategic Fund today approved a $4 million loan to Southwest Michigan First to build the R&D facility that Newell Rubbermaid will lease, plus a $2 million performance-based grant under the state’s Business Development Program.

Newell Rubbermaid now has design and test facilities in Illinois, Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia, North Carolina and California and wanted to consolidate into a single facility, according to a briefing memo for the Michigan Strategic Fund that outlined the project.

Snyder hopes the new R&D center by Newell Rubbermaid can attract similar investment to Michigan. In a media conference call, he noted the design clusters in Michigan built around the auto industry and West Michigan’s office furniture industry.

“This is the right kind of signal to send to not just people in Michigan but across the country that when people are looking for that creative group of people that know how to take creative ideas and make things out of them … that reinforces what we’ve always been good at,” Snyder said.

Attracting the company was the result of two to three years of work that really kicked into gear last fall, said Katie Perry, associate vice president at Southwest Michigan First.

“The desire to have top talent coming out of the (WMU) college of engineering was a huge draw for them,” Perry said. “And it’s mutually beneficial. The opportunity for students to get internships and have real-world experience was huge. For the company, just to be in a park where everyone is focused on research is inspiring.” 

Southwest Michigan First expects to have the new R&D facility built within a year, MEDC Project Manager Robert Wilson said. Newell Rubbermaid would move in and begin operations soon afterward.

“It should move very quickly,” Wilson said.

Southwest Michigan First selected Portage-based AVB Construction for the build-out of the project and tapped Byce & Associates Inc. of Kalamazoo for architectural and engineering duties. 

“Newell Rubbermaid has customers around the world and has told us they want this facility to be a showcase,” Bob Miller, associate vice president for community outreach at WMU, said in a statement.

Newell Rubbermaid in 2012 generated sales of $1.51 billion and net income of $101.9 million. The corporation’s brands include Irwin and Lenox tools, Rubbermaid products, Sharpie markers, Paper Mate and Parker pens, Calphalon and Levolor.

“A lot of brands we run into on a daily basis will be designed in Kalamazoo,” Perry said. 

Read 70638 times Last modified on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 22:16

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