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 The Tri-County Commerce Center, at the corner of 10 Mile and Dequindre roads, already hosts three major companies, and is now looking to add German battery maker Akasol AG.

The Tri-County Commerce Center, at the corner of 10 Mile and Dequindre roads, already hosts three major companies, and is now looking to add German battery maker Akasol AG.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Akasol AG on the cusp of finalizing plans for plant in Hazel Park

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published July 5, 2019


HAZEL PARK — Once the site of Hazel Park Raceway, the Tri-County Commerce Center at the corner of Dequindre and 10 Mile roads has drawn such tenants as an Amazon distribution center, automotive supplier Bridgewater Interiors, and an LG Electronics plant building electric batteries for use in the Chevy Bolt.

Now a fourth tenant may be joining them soon: Akasol AG, a German company that produces high-performance lithium-ion battery systems. The company is in the final stages of approving a deal to open a plant at the Tri-County Commerce Center, which would be the company’s first facility in North America.

At press time, the U.S. subsidiary, Akasol Inc., hadn’t yet signed a lease for the property with Ashley Capital, the site developer. But city officials said that the deal is almost certain to go through, and that either way it shows a positive trend for the site: attracting high-value companies.

“This is wonderful news,” said Ed Klobucher, the city manager of Hazel Park. “We’re glad to see that this process is progressing for this business. We look forward to them reaching a deal with Ashley Capital and welcoming this new business to Hazel Park. This will be the second eco-friendly battery-related company locating at the Tri-County Commerce Center, and we think that’s good because we’re positioning Hazel Park to take advantage of the 21st-century clean energy economy.”

Indeed, between LG Electronics and Akasol AG, as well as Exlterra right down the street — another company that creates eco-friendly systems — Hazel Park is beginning to form a “green” tech corridor on 10 Mile Road, Klobucher noted.

“I also want to recognize the state of Michigan, (the Michigan Economic Development Corp.) and Oakland County Economic Development for their help in this process,” he said. “We hope that they reach the agreement, and we’ll do a job fair here in the city to help with employee recruitment. These are good-paying jobs for this region, and we’ll give our residents right here in town an easy chance to apply for them.”

The plant itself would be an investment of about $40 million. This includes a highly competitive performance-based grant for $2.24 million that was approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund board on June 25.

The plant is expected to create 224 jobs, building batteries for both on- and off-road vehicles, mainly for European customers.

“Companies like Akasol and LG Electronics are doing critically important work as we transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy,” Klobucher said. “These companies are on the cutting edge of the future.”

Hazel Park Mayor Michael Webb said that the city is conveniently located with its easy access to Interstate 696 and Interstate 75.

“We’ve been saying it for years, how we’re located in a diverse and well-centered area of Oakland and Macomb and Wayne counties, right at the corner, and how we have the best avenues to get to different places for the technology companies,” Webb said. “Plus, we also offer good venues for dining and entertainment.”

The mayor said that he is most excited by the hundreds of new jobs that will likely be created, and also by the way the workers will patronize other local businesses, such as bars and restaurants.

“Creating jobs in my own community is the greatest feeling in the world,” Webb said. “It’s an opportunity for everyone. It’s a win-win situation for all.”

Andy LeCureaux, a member of the Hazel Park City Council, said that while he felt sad to see the raceway close, he welcomes the lucrative opportunities presented by the new businesses there, remediating a site that had been polluted and giving it a new purpose.

“The racing industry was dying, and with it those old-world jobs. But now we have new jobs in clean green technology, replacing a site that was otherwise unbuildable since it was so contaminated. It’s poetic, in a way,” LeCureaux said. “Much of the contamination there came from the Henry Ford plant in Highland Park. It was waste from a time when the auto industry was just getting underway. Now where there was once a dump, we have new technology springing forth — and hopefully this new technology will be easier on the Earth.”