Whirlpool invests $60M in cutting-edge technology center

Published: Aug. 18, 2023 at 6:16 PM EDT
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ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (WNDU) - R & D is in the D.N.A. of appliance giant Whirlpool.

On Friday, the company celebrated a $60 million investment in a state-of-the-art technology center in St. Joseph.

The center is close to the spot where Whirlpool got its proverbial start 112 years ago with the invention of the first electric washing machine.

“So, this is where we do our design, and development, and ultimately testing of our appliances. So, it’s everything from making sure brand-new products that we’re going to bring to the market meet our performance requirements,” explained Whirlpool’s Pam Klyn.

Whirlpool has now invested $230 million on new or expanded facilities in the St. Joe and Benton Harbor area in the past 10 years.

While celebrations like today’s have become routine, this one attracted Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Whirlpool is the last of the top ten appliance makers in the world to be based in the United States. “In this economy, and as mobile as the world is, we can’t take nothing for granted. That’s why we need to continue to be good partners and work together, “Whitmer said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga from Michigan’s 4th District expressed his appreciation as he addressed the crowd gathered for the event. ”Thank you to those decision makers within Whirlpool of putting a priority on the U.S., on Michigan, and specifically on Benton Harbor and St. Joe. That is saying a lot these days because you have options.”

Whirlpool CEO Marc Bitzer said the company did have options, but made a conscious choice to continue to invest in St. Joe/ Benton Harbor. “If you think about it, Let’s imagine you would be in a big city. You would have the same operations; people would commute hours and hours. Okay, my commute to the office is three and a half minutes. I have one traffic light and I get angry if it’s red. So, there is some merit in having it all centered around here.”

The Technology Center will be built in phases, with the first of some 500 workers expected to move into the new building starting next month.