High performance prototype carmaker revs up in Troy

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published October 3, 2012

After the state of Michigan gave a Troy high-performance automotive and parts prototype manufacturer a half-million reasons to relocate workers and expand in the city of Troy, the city sweetened the deal.

The Michigan Strategic Fund approved $500,000 in Michigan Business Development incentives for Alternative Automotive Technologies in support of an investment of just under $1 million to rehabilitate a vacant facility, creating 127 new jobs.

The Michigan Business Development program replaces the Michigan Economic Growth Authority program and provides grants, loans and other economic assistance to qualified businesses that make investments or create jobs in Michigan. Alternative Automotive Technologies plans to invest $940,000 in equipment and renovations to the site.

The company has requested a nine-year, $12,010 tax abatement from the city of Troy, which the council approved 5-2 Sept. 24.

Mayor Janice Daniels and Councilman Doug Tietz opposed the abatement.

“Giving the city of Troy the ability to grant tax abatements is like giving Tiger Woods a handicap in a game of golf,” Daniels said. “It’s just not fair.”

City Assessor Nino Licari told the council that the company is moving into a vacant building on Maple, the building that Saleen, a prototype manufacturer of high-performance sports cars, had occupied. Saleen downsized the business in December of 2008 and closed doors in 2009.

“They have large contracts and need to get in the building immediately,” Licari said. He credited Troy economic development specialist Glenn Lapin, who he said “had a lot to do with getting them here.”

“It’s not a lot of cost to the city to bring a whole lot of jobs,” Licari added. He noted that now that the building is occupied, it will generate real estate taxes going forward.

Two former Saleen employees, Todd Helms and Bryan Chambers, head Alternative Automotive Technologies, and 90 percent of the current team is made up of former Saleen employees, according to the company website.

Call Staff Writer Terry Oparka at (586) 498-1054.