Northwest Indiana is pinching more than 500 high-tech energy jobs from the state of Michigan. Fronius USA’s North American headquarters will move from the city of Brighton, about 50 miles west of Detroit, to Portage, which lies an hour east of Chicago in Porter County, Indiana.
Michael Puente of our Changing Gears partner WBEZ reported on the story.
Keeping companies in Michigan has been a high priority for Gov. Rick Snyder, who has pushed to cut business taxes as part of his effort to transform the state. Earlier this spring, he tweeted, “During the campaign I met with Gov. Mitch Daniels and he told me the best job creation program in Indiana is the Michigan Business Tax.”
But Fronius announced Thursday that it will lease up to 400,000-square-feet of manufacturing space at the AmeriPlex business park off Interstate 80/94 and Indiana Highway 249. The company says the move will provide Indiana up to 512 jobs within five years.
The state is stepping in with more than $4 million in tax credits. Daniels joined Portage Mayor Olga Velasquez and company officials at a press conference Thursday afternoon. Daniels defended the credits, saying they make sense because the company will invest up to $26 million at the new location.
Austria-based Fronius has more than 4,000 employees worldwide. It specializes in battery charging systems, welding technology and solar electronics. The managing director of the USA division, Wolfgang Niedrist, said Indiana was chosen because it offers educated workers, access to highways and a solid supplier network.
The move to Indiana is the company’s largest investment outside of Austria, a company official said. The firm will keep a sales office in Brighton, where the company opened in 2002.