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Indian automaker looks to acquire Flint's Buick City site for new facility

Demolished Buick City in Flint, Michigan
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Flint broke a homocide record last year. The city has faced hard times since the decline of the auto industry. Here the remains of Buick City in Flint, Michigan.

Mahindra Automotive has signed a letter of intent to evaluate the former Buick City site in Flint. The Indian automaker hopes to acquire the site to build a new facility.

Mahindra Automotive North America currently makes the Roxor off-road vehicle at its plant and headquarters in Auburn Hills. The company is also a finalist in the United States Postal Service’s Next Generation Delivery Vehicle program. Mahindra, along with AM General, Karsan, Oshkosh, Utilimaster, and VT Hackney, is competing to create a new delivery vehicle for the USPS. If Mahindra wins the contract, it says it will use the new facility in Flint to manufacture those trucks. 

Rich Ansell is the vice president of marketing for Mahindra Automotive North America. He says the Flint location would be ideal for a number of reasons: its proximity to the company’s Auburn Hills headquarters, its size, and the city’s historic connection to the automotive industry.

“Part of Mahindra’s philosophy, in terms of embedding themselves in communities in which we’re trying to grow, is to look for opportunities to go into communities that need help.” He adds, “Flint has seen better days, there’s still some great things about Flint, it’s got a storied automotive history, and it appeals to us to be a piece of the rebound that could take place there.”

The facility in Flint is projected to create 2,000 jobs for the area within the first five years, with the potential for more jobs in the future. Ansell says Mahindra is in talks with other states, but its preference would be to stay in Michigan, as it’s one of the “preeminent [auto] development centers on the globe”.

“We'll keep this facility, everything we're talking about doing in Flint is incremental to that. You know, I just think it speaks to what the state represents in terms of automotive engineering and manufacturing and the whole ecosystem that's here. I think that speaks to why we're looking to continue expanding right here in the state.”

Ansell also says Mahindra has been in talks with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and other officials in the state of Michigan to develop an incentive package, and that Flint city officials have been enthusiastic in their support. 

In a press release, Flint mayor Karen Weaver said she and her staff are “ready and waiting to work with Mahindra. We have been in conversations with MANA and its contractors, as well as the MEDC, Flint Genesee Chamber of Commerce and RACER Trust, and we are committed to making this project happen. We are eagerly anticipating their final decision so we can continue moving Flint forward.”

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