Guardian commits to expand in Albion

Guardian Industries made a commitment today to invest $26.5 million in its plant here and add as many as 150 jobs.

At a press conference this morning at Albion City Hall, the Auburn Hills-based company made the announcement that it was expanding its Albion facility rather than another plant in Texas.Guardian Group Vice President Peter Walters said city and state officials made Albion the best choice.

"We were convinced by quite a number of people this was the best place to do business," he said.

In June, Gov. Jennifer Granholm offered the company a $1.6 million Single Business Tax credit. The Albion City Council has offered the company 50 percent real property and 100 percent personal property tax abatements.

Walters said the company still has to get several clearances, but once the expansion is done by mid-2006, the plant's production will double.

Albion Mayor Bill Wheaton, City Manager Mike Herman, state Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, Peggy Sindt, president of the Albion Economic Development Corporation, and officials with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. attended the press conference.

Wheaton said the expansion was welcome news, especially since Albion has been hit hard by business closings in recent years.

"With what we've suffered in the past few years, this is quite an asset to us," he said.

In 2002, Albion lost 500 jobs when Hayes-Albion closed and 235 jobs when Trillium Hospital closed. A number of stores have also closed in the city in recent years, including Kmart.

Wheaton said he was almost speechless about the news.

"I've seen a lot of ups and downs in this community and this is one of the greatest days we have had," he said.

Guardian makes fiberglass insulation for residential and commercial buildings and now employs about 275 people at its Albion plant. The expansion will bring that total to more than 400, making Guardian the largest manufacturer in Albion.

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