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Citing ‘tight labor market,’ state board approves more flexible hiring requirements tied to $2.25M JR Automation grant MIBIZ FILE PHOTO

Citing ‘tight labor market,’ state board approves more flexible hiring requirements tied to $2.25M JR Automation grant

BY Wednesday, November 09, 2022 02:11pm

HOLLAND — The Michigan Strategic Fund Board will give JR Automation Technologies LLC more flexibility in meeting hiring requirements tied to a $2.25 million state grant the company received in May.

“We have to be thoughtful given the tight labor market,” Michigan Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Quentin Messer Jr. said during a media briefing call before the MSF Board met on Wednesday. “All jobs are still required to be filled by June 30, 2025. This shows JR Automation’s continued commitment, but we want to be thoughtful about it, too.”

The MSF board earlier this year approved a $2.25 million Michigan Business Development Program grant to support the company’s expansion at a leased facility at 40 E. 64th St. in Holland. The MBDP grant was contingent on JR Automation creating 140 new jobs at the new facility.

The amended grant requirements allow JR Automation to create 140 new jobs across all of its 11 locations in Michigan. JR Automation designs, builds and integrates automated manufacturing and robotic technology. 

State officials cited the tight labor market and need for “flexibility to work across facilities to create the best outcome for its customers” when seeking the amended requirements, according to an MEDC briefing memo.

“The ability to grow in the state of Michigan is driven by expanding the real estate footprint, allowing business units to shift and grow throughout the portfolio to meet capacity demands,” the MEDC stated in the briefing memo. “This project allows for the company to relocate its machining and fabrications business, double its footprint, and will result in the premier machining and fabrication facility in the state.”

The Holland-based company plans to invest about $9.9 million in the 110,000-square-foot former Genzink Steel building in Holland.

The company also has fallen below its base of 1,277 employees in Michigan based on difficulty with hiring, and requested that the MSF Board expedite disbursing the grant money, changing the milestone period from three to two years. 

Founded in 1980, JR Automation operates nine locations in Holland, with two other Michigan locations in Auburn Hills and Stevensville. Hitachi Ltd. acquired the company for $1.42 billion in 2019, creating opportunities to pair JR Automation’s robotic system integration capabilities with the manufacturing A.I. solutions at Hitachi. Last year, JR Automation merged its family of companies into a single automation provider.

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