A business in Menominee is planning an $8 million expansion that will create at least 150 new jobs over the next two to three years. This news about Enstrom Helicopter Corp. was celebrated Friday morning with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Enstrom is nearly doubling the size of their existing facility. They currently have 85,000 square feet of space at the Menominee-Marinette Twin County Airport, and now they plan to add 77,000 more square feet.
Enstrom is a leading designer and manufacturer of helicopters, and the governor said their expansion is more proof that Michigan is the economic comeback state.
"Michigan's the comeback state and to continue that path, it's to get back to what we always did great, which was 'Made in Michigan,' whether it's manufactured or grown or created here in some fashion," said Snyder. "If you look at Enstrom, it's just a wonderful illustration of 'Made in Michigan' done on a world class basis."
Enstrom is able to grow after they were acquired in January 2013 by Chongqing Helicopter Investment. This new parent company is making a major investment in the Menominee facility, according to Jerry Mullins, Enstrom CEO and President.
"We're going to be making more of our product and we're also developing a couple new products, and again, this new acquisition of Enstrom is going to allow us to invest in newer products, both on the smaller end and the larger end, and we'll be doing it over the next few years," said Mullins.
Many of the parts Enstrom uses are manufactured right in Michigan. Snyder said that kind of partnership, along with creating a skilled workforce, are crucial to more positive outcomes in the economy.
"If you look at what's required to make these products, it's sophisticated work," he said. "It's not the old factory that people might visualize where you're on an assembly line. This is sophisticated work. They're basically putting one of the most difficult items you could put together, a helicopter, and they're doing it all here."
The company was founded in a basement by mining engineer Rudy Enstrom in Crystal Falls back in 1959. Growth like this is something Snyder hopes to see more.
"Making a helicopter in your basement? There's someone that's entrepreneurial," Snyder said. "And that's the spirit that we need to see happen, and then you continue to see. Now it's a successful company with great people, growing and growing and creating more jobs."
The expansion work is being done by Moyle Construction. They are set to begin next week. Construction plans are rapid: work is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.