ST. JOSEPH — Executives for home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool Corp. plan to finish construction on the majority of the company’s new $60 million technical center in the second quarter of 2023.
Representatives from the Benton Harbor-based, multinational manufacturer provided an update on the pending state-of-the-art facility at a beam topping ceremony this afternoon at the project site located at 303 Upton Drive in St. Joseph.
“This is a building that long needed to be updated and, as we’ve made other investments in the area, we’ve had this on our list,” Pam Klyn, Whirlpool’s senior vice president of corporate relations and sustainability, told MiBiz. “This is really about creating a much more efficient footprint for our employees. Right now, we’re on four different levels and this is a facility where we have a wide range of products. This will streamline everything.”
Whirlpool (NYSE: WHR) nearly a year ago released a plan to rehabilitate and reconstruct its global laundry and dishwasher technical center, which was home to 400 full-time engineers and research and development professionals. After demolishing an existing four-story building, the company is now working to construct a two-story, 153,000-square-foot facility while overhauling an additional 20,000 square feet of existing facility.
Facing minimal delays from the pandemic, the company looks to complete phase one of the project in the second quarter next year. The facility will continue to be home to 400 employees and be used for research and development.
The modernized facility will not only streamline movements, but it also will feature updated testing equipment for both physical testing and simulation capabilities.
“We have a number of global calls throughout the day, so we need to make sure we had the right technology and infrastructure set up to facilitate those meetings to make them inclusive and make sure that every person on video or on the phone or in the room was equally able to participate in the meeting and bring their ideas,” Klyn said.
As a testament to Whirlpool’s collaborative relationship with its home communities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, the company also partnered with Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment LLC to construct Harbor Shores Apartments, which features 80 apartments on 10.65 acres of land.
Klyn said the complex is slated to open early next year.
“Our communities are very supportive and they’re excited to see this investment continue,” she said. “It was a conscious choice to make this investment here and keep this talent here and attract future talent.”
“There is that big need for housing here for employees and other community members like many communities are seeing — we really hope the success of (Harbor Shores) will be a catalyst for other developers to come in and do the same thing,” Klyn added.