100 new jobs headed to Dowagiac

100 new manufacturing jobs appear to be headed to Dowagiac, with the job creation slated to start by the end of this year.

The project cleared a huge hurdle on Tuesday with the approval of state tax credits for Premier Tool and Die.

About four years ago, Premier shut down its zinc die casting operations because a lot of that work began going to China.

Now, some of the work is coming back home, according to Premier Chief Financial Officer Steve Endres, and Premier is in a hurry to re-establish the line in Dowagiac.

Endres says about 80 percent of the work on the new line will be done on behalf of Benton Harbor based appliance giant Whirlpool.

“100 jobs is very significant, it will, between the jobs that they already have and the new ones that they're creating, they'll be one of the top five employers when it’s all said and done,” said Dowagiac City Manager Kevin Anderson.

Premier already operates one plant in Dowagiac where approximately 60 people are employed. While those jobs arrived about a year later than expected, the new project promises to deliver quickly.

“They’ve got some new contracts that they'll be needing to fulfill,” said Anderson. “So we're looking forward to them getting in there and doing some clean up work on that site, and uh, really by the time we get to the end of the year having those jobs in place.”

Plans call for Premier to put the zinc line in a vacant factory that used to house ICG and Du-well. Premier plans to spend $3.2 million on the project. Premier’s Michigan state tax credits could be worth up to $862,000 over the next five years.

Dowagiac was apparently competing with sites in New York and Ohio for the new jobs.

The news was received well at Bakeman Barbers in downtown Dowagiac. “Well it’s better than 100 going out, right, and Dowagiac can definitely use the work,” said Pat Bakeman. “Hopefully they’ll hire local people.”

Barbershop customer Tim Hippensteel agreed. “There’s a lot of machinists, a lot of good machine operators and around the area that are good at that sort of thing, and a lot of them are cutting grass and doing jobs like that because there just aren’t the positions for them anymore.”

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