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Whirlpool hopes to attract, retain talent with workforce housing project COURTESY PHOTO

Whirlpool hopes to attract, retain talent with workforce housing project

BY Tuesday, August 03, 2021 04:39pm

BENTON HARBOR — Whirlpool Corp. has broken ground on a $22 million multifamily housing development near downtown Benton Harbor that officials say will help fill gaps in workforce housing availability.

In partnership with Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment LLC, the project will include 80 apartments and 120 parking spaces on 10.65 acres west of M-63 near the intersection of Whitwam Drive and Riverview Drive. Grand Rapids-based Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment is registered to Dickinson Wright PLLC Attorney John Cameron Jr.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined federal, state and local officials at a groundbreaking ceremony today.

“We applaud Whirlpool Corporation’s continued investment in Southwest Michigan as we work to jumpstart our economy,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This innovative approach to solving a critical workforce housing gap is a win for Whirlpool in attracting top talent, a win for the community, bringing increased density and revenue to small businesses in downtown Benton Harbor and a win for people who need and deserve quality, attainable housing in the place they live, work and play.”

Plans for the housing development were announced in June after the Michigan Strategic Fund approved a $750,000 Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant for the project and related road improvements.

Whirlpool hopes to attract and retain a diverse range of talent by investing in workforce housing units. 

“This entire project began with a conversation I had with Whirlpool Chairman and CEO Marc Bitzer when he first approached me to discuss his plans to create a Racial Equality Pledge to increase Black representation among the workforce and in leadership positions at Whirlpool Corporation,” Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad said in a statement. “At that time, I asked him to consider making this investment into the city of Benton Harbor to grow our city and create a place that welcomes all people to live in our community, including underrepresented minority colleagues who will be joining Whirlpool.”

Headquartered in Benton Harbor, Whirlpool is also investing $60 million to redevelop its St. Joseph-based Global Laundry and Dishwasher Technical Center that employs 400 full-time engineers and research and development professionals. Whirlpool plans to replace an existing four-story, 157,800-square-foot building with a 153,000-square-foot facility while also renovating existing building space.

Economic development organization Cornerstone Alliance has coordinated the development and construction of the pedestrian bridge over the Paw Paw River to create better access to the Technical Center between Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. 

“This housing development is important for several reasons; not only for Benton Harbor and Whirlpool Corporation, but for Berrien County and the Southwest Michigan region as well,” said President and CEO of Cornerstone Alliance Rob Cleveland. “It’s about creating jobs, bringing more revenue into the community, and supporting a shared vision of providing better opportunities for everyone to live and work in this beautiful and vibrant part of the state.” 

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