Sakthi group investing $31 million, expands operations to former Southwestern HS

Auto supplier Sakthi Automotive is expanding its facility in southwest Detroit.

The ambitious project is a result of partnership efforts of the Detroit Public Schools, the city of Detroit and the State of Michigan.

"Sakthi is building out a 70-acre campus with 1.2 million square feet of manufacturing space right here in Detroit," said Mayor Mike Duggan.

The auto supplier will pump $31 million into this project, which will take portions of vacant Detroit Southwestern High School and turn it into a state of the art manufacturing facility and training center.

"This is the kind of component that will be made here, this is a steering knuckle," Gov. Rick Snyder said. "A knuckle does not sound very sophisticated, but this is one of the critical components of a vehicle now coming from China - but will now be coming from Detroit."

"We are here as they say in a Catholic marriage, we are here for the long time we will not walk away tomorrow," said Dr. Manickam Mahalingam of the Sakthi Automotive Group.

The project will also help honor the high school's legacy. The gym produced a stable of basketball talent including NBA standout Jalen Rose and former coach Perry Watson who led his players numerous  accolades. It will be preserved as a laboratory facility.

"I'm honored for the preservation of the gym because that of the young men who played in that gym not only won a lot of games, but inspired the community," Watson said.

Officials say not only will this project transform a vacant high school, it's also helping to transform lives of ex-offenders.

LaRue Cole says he had a home invasion charge that sent him to prison for 5 and half years. He had difficulties getting hired, but Sakthi changed all that.

"I've been with the company one month now and hired in as a material handler, hi-lo driver," Cole said. "And so far so good."

Officials say it's a win-win for all. In fact, The auto supplier says expanding in Detroit makes sense because it allows the company to be near its customer base which includes General Motors.

"Detroit is the center of the automotive universe, so I do not think we could find any better place than Detroit," said Lalit Verma of Sakthi.
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