Ann Arbor Region Business Success Stories

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The American Center for Mobility - Driving the Future of Transportation

American Center for Mobility

The American Center for Mobility is a joint initiative among the State of Michigan – including the Michigan Department of Transportation and Michigan Economic Development Corp., the University of Michigan, Business Leaders  for Michigan and Ann Arbor SPARK.  The board of directors is comprised of representatives from U-M, Business Leaders for Michigan and SPARK, which initiated the project and will play a key role in economic development tied to the center. Automotive industry and community advisory boards will also be established.  Founding board members include Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan; Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK; Jon Kinsey, assistant vice president for research at U-M, and U-M Mobility Transformation Center Director Huei Peng.  

>More about the American Center for Mobility (ACM)

Toyota Technical Center Expands Again 

Toyota announced today that it is planning another expansion of its Southeast Michigan R&D campuses. This marks the third time in just over a year that Toyota has announced plans to increase employment and investment in Michigan. Today’s announcement features a total investment of $126 million for the expansion of Toyota’s powertrain operations at its Ann Arbor campus and the consolidation of vehicle development operations at a new facility on its York Township campus.

Both vehicle development and powertrain functions will become centralized in Michigan, increasing their scope, responsibility and decision-making ability while providing improved communication and access to the company’s direct procurement division. Approximately 85 jobs will relocate to Michigan from California by the end of 2016 as a part of the move.

In late 2013, Toyota announced a $28 million expansion of its Ann Arbor operations and earlier this year announced the addition of 250 direct procurement and supplier engineering development positions currently based in Erlanger, Ky.

> More about Toyota

Thomson Reuters Invests and Expands

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation today approved a $2.4 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to support Thomson Reuters expansion in the Ann Arbor area.

The Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters has approximately 1,100 employees in the Ann Arbor area and is growing. As part of the project, Thomson Reuters will make a qualified capital investment of $19.9 million and add at least 300 jobs locally over the next five years.

Thomson Reuters provides technology and information services to the financial, legal, tax and accounting, and intellectual property and science markets. It also includes the Reuters news organization. The vast majority of local employees work in the company’s Tax & Accounting business — in a unit that provides accounting, tax, and practice management software and technology infrastructure to the accounting profession in the U.S. and Canada.

Ann Arbor SPARK provided assistance to the company in securing incentives from MEDC and working with Pittsfield Charter Township, which will consider supporting the project in the form of property tax abatement.

> More about Thomson Reuters

Hannigan Insurance Opens New Operations

With support from Ann Arbor SPARK, Hannigan Insurance is opening a customer retention and acquisition center in the Ann Arbor region. Hannigan Insurance, a technology company, national insurance brokerage, and Internet distribution platform for the insurance and financial services industries, will create 75 new jobs and relocate an additional 10 jobs to the region. Hannigan Insurance will invest up to $516,000 in this new office.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) is supporting the company’s new Ann Arbor region location with a $400,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. Ann Arbor SPARK worked with Hannigan Insurance throughout the process of applying for and securing those incentives.

Ann Arbor SPARK has managed several aspects of Hannigan Insurance’s expansion to the region.  Not only did Ann Arbor SPARK provide information on the region’s software cluster, it conducted site tours as the company sought the perfect location for its new operation. Ann Arbor SPARK has also been instrumental in helping the company find quality candidates for positions it needs filled quickly at its new location.

> More about Hannigan Insurance

Seelio Acquired by PlattForm

PlattForm, a leading marketing and enrollment management partner for colleges and universities worldwide, announced today the acquisition of Seelio (, a service-based student portfolio solution for higher education institutions. Seelio enhances PlattForm's model by offering a unique student life cycle approach that spans from enrollment to career placement while delivering optimal student outcomes.

"Seelio is an exciting example of the entrepreneurial ecosystem at work. Thanks to the support that's available here in this region, the Seelio founders were able to develop a technology, receive support from the university, graduate and find a home in the SPARK Central incubator where they refined their business plan and product," said Paul Krutko, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK. "Seelio's strong start and solid business model makes it an attractive acquisition for Plattform, which has committed to backing Seelio's continued hiring and long-term growth in Ann Arbor."

Seelio will continue to operate under its current leadership with its own distinct brand entity but will gain access to the backing and support of PlattForm’s leadership team. The Seelio and PlattForm teams are excited to partner in their efforts to transform higher education and deliver a strong value to students and their universities.

 > More about Seelio and Plattform

Barracuda Networks IPO Raises $75M

Barracuda Networks on posting a successful IPO in 2013. Barracuda's public debut brought in an impressive $75 million, and by the time the closing bell rang, shares were at $21.50. The cloud-based security and storage company recently reaffirmed its commitment to the Ann Arbor region, expanding into the former Borders building in downtown Ann Arbor and creating 184 high tech jobs in the region. Ann Arbor SPARK continues to work with Barracuda throughout its aggressive growth. 

"It's always exciting when a local business has a successful IPO. Congratulations to Barracuda on being the most recent example of this type of success," said Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO.  "Barracuda Networks brought new life to a visibly vacant downtown building, and is contributing to the vibrant, growing technology corridor in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor SPARK's work with Barracuda Networks shows how proactive economic development can yield positive, measurable outcomes for our region." 

> More about Barracuda Networks

AlertWatch Receives FDA Approval

AlertWatch Inc., a University of Michigan startup, has received FDA clearance to sell its patient monitoring software to hospitals. This software helps anesthesiologists monitor patients in the operating room through the use of aggregate data from monitors, lab results, and medical histories. 

This software was originally developed at U-M’s Venture Accelerator, and the company has also received support from Ann Arbor SPARK through an investment from the Michigan Pre Seed Capital Fund. These funds helped AlertWatch hire developers and get through the FDA clearance process.

> More about AlertWatch

Navitas Expands to Pittsfield Township

Navitas Systems LLC, a leading provider of energy-enabled system solutions, energy storage products, and power electronics for commercial, industrial and government agency customers, announced that it is expanding its operations and relocating to a new facility in Pittsfield Charter Township, and has committed to make a capital investment of up to $9.3 million and create 125 jobs related to storage battery manufacturing. 

"Navitas is a key player in Ann Arbor's alternative energy sector and Ann Arbor SPARK has been a strong advocate for the company at both the regional and state level, providing support for the incentives that it needs to continue to grow here," said Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO Paul Krutko.  "It's exciting that Navitas will invest in the Ann Arbor region, hire more researchers and engineers here, and continue to be part of the region's solid economic foundation."

> More about Navitas

Lake Trust Credit Union to Build a New $30 million Headquarters in Livingston County

The new headquarters will combine a work force split between corporate offices in Lansing and Plymouth. Lake Trust is a new organization created from the 2010 merger of NuUnion Credit Union and Detroit Edison Credit Union. 

It will take 18 months to construct the 100,000-square-foot facility, which will be located just east of Old U.S. 23 at Spencer Road. The headquarters will open in late 2015.

“It’s been an amazing experience operating in Brighton and Livingston County,” said Lake Trust Credit Union President and CEO David Snodgrass. “The support we’ve been shown has been amazing, which was another qualitative factor in our decision making process.”

The facility will initially have 250 employees, but Snodgrass said he expects it to grow to 350 employees.

Credit Union Unveils $30 Million Plan

> More about Lake Trust Credit Union

Toyota Invests $28M in Ann Arbor Powertrain R&D Expansion

Toyota Technical Center, a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, N.A., announced today an investment of more than $28M to expand its powertrain operations at two facilities in Ann Arbor.

The new growth will support powertrain development capability, specifically in the areas of design, evaluation and calibration on new engine and transmission projects. Beefing up these three areas in Ann Arbor is just the latest example of Toyota's commitment to drive more local decision-making and ultimately faster, more precise response to its customers.  

Paul Krutko, president of Ann Arbor SPARK said, "Toyota chose to locate and take root here because of local resources, specifically the deep pool of engineering and technical talent. Ann Arbor SPARK, working with its partners at the local and state level, is committed to attracting leaders like Toyota to the region, and offering them the wide range of support to grow their businesses here."  

> More about Toyota


Faurecia Redefines Manufacturing in Saline

Faurecia, a global player in the automotive industry, recently secured the former ACH plant in Saline. This project retained 1,135 jobs in the Ann Arbor region. Ann Arbor SPARK helped to facilitate the deal between the manufacturer and the City of Saline. In its 1.6 million sq.ft. factory, Faurecia manufactures cockpits, instrument and door panels, and center consoles for Ford vehicles.

“Faurecia, an automotive components manufacturer headquartered in Nanterre, France, chose to invest in the Ann Arbor region because of its unique pool of skilled workers, proximity to our customer base, and strategic location globally. Having a plant located in the region positions Faurecia to achieve our objective of becoming the largest automotive interior supplier in North America.” - Raymond Boufford, Vice President, Business Transformation 

The redesign work started when Faurecia began operations in Saline in June of 2012, and will continue over the next few years. Other upgrades include new plant floor lighting and painting the formerly brown walls white for a brighter work atmosphere.

Over the past year, Faurecia has added eight new North American locations, including four in southeast Michigan.

> More about Faurecia


LanguageMate Grows in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor SPARK's Business Development team helped New York City-based LanguageMate's subsidiary company, Canopy Innovations, open an office in Ann Arbor.

LanguageMate, founded by Bill Z. Tan, specializes in creating software that removes language and cultural barriers in healthcare. He chose to open an office in Ann Arbor as the company has worked closely with researchers at the University of Michigan. Bill’s brother is also a U of M graduate and there is a natural synergy between LanguageMate's social mission and the general climate of Ann Arbor.

The 50-person firm created a small team at the SPARK Central incubator in downtown Ann Arbor and worked with SPARK to find permanent offices in the city. The nine-year-old company is currently looking to grow their staff through hiring additional employees and interns.

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