Roundup: YFS Automotive, Automation Alley, Ann Arbor SPARK, NextEnergy

Here’s a look at news from around Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

The New York Times reported two years ago that Chinese automakers were quietly building a presence in Michigan. The latest company to set up shop in Michigan is supplier YFS Automotive Systems, a China-based company with a U.S. headquarters in Gallatin, TN. Last week, YFS announced it would invest $26.9 million in a Detroit manufacturing center. Though the company hasn’t said where in the city it might be located, YFS plans to build a 150,000 square-foot facility, which will employ up to 160 people. The site will have room for a proposed future expansion; YSF hopes to start production by July 2017.

According to a press release, the city of Detroit, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation helped to put together a $1.3 million, performance-based tax credit from the Michigan Strategic Fund to close the deal.

Automation Alley, the Troy-based business technology association and accelerator, is heading to Mexico this fall for a trade mission. Ten Michigan businesses will also make the trip to Mexico City, Puebla, Querétaro, and Guanajuato in late September. Prior to the trade mission, Automation Alley will work with the Michigan Mexico Center to arrange matchmaking meetings for mission participants with potential clients, customers, end users, agent/distributors, join-venture partners, and technology licensees. Participants can expect to meet with two to three companies per day while on the mission. If you are a business owner interested in participating in the trade mission, contact Lisa Lasser at lasserl@automationalley.com to apply for a spot; the deadline to apply is Aug. 14.

—Paul Krutko, the president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, recently represented Ann Arbor at the White House Forum on Economic Development, hosted by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and SelectUSA in Washington, DC. The day-long summit attracted more than 50 economic development leaders from across the country. JoAnn Crary, president of Saginaw Future and current chair of the IEDC Board of Directors, stressed the importance of the face time invitees get with the Obama Administration, saying in a press release that “there is no substitution for direct contact with program heads and policy-makers. These are the decision-makers, and they need to hear from leaders in America’s communities who provide new ideas and solutions.”

NextEnergy, the Detroit-based cleantech and energy tech accelerator, has named Maria Thompson as its new board chair. In addition, Lizabeth Ardisana, Patricia Glaza, and Eric Shreffler have been appointed to the board as new members.

Thompson currently serves as entrepreneur-in-residence for Arsenal Venture Partners, and has extensive experience in advanced technologies. She succeeds Robert Buckler as chairman, who NextEnergy CEO Jean Redfield praised for his leadership in overseeing NextEnergy’s transformation from the year the center opened its doors and welcomed its first lab partners, through the expansion of testing and validation capabilities. Redfield said Buckler will stay on as chairman emeritus.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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