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Anderson loses out on Bright Automotive tech center

November 30, 2010

Anderson-based Bright Automotive has decided to locate its technology center in Rochester Hills, Mich., causing the Madison County city that houses Bright's headquarters to lose out on 200 new jobs and an $11 million investment.

Michael Brylawski, Bright’s executive vice president of business development, told the Anderson Herald-Bulletin earlier this month that the company still remains committed to Indiana  even though it chose to locate the center elsewhere.

“This announcement has no implications on our current operations at the Flagship [Enterprise Center] and what we are doing there,” he said. “When we were in full operation in 2008, we always did our vehicle engineering in Michigan. What we’ve always done in Indiana is the power train because the battery and vehicle electrification expertise is in Indiana.”

Bright Automotive, which plans to produce hybrid vehicles, was hatched at the Rocky Mountain Institute in 2008 and moved to Anderson. It cut seven workers earlier this year, including its vice president of marketing, and was down to fewer than two dozen employees, according to a July story from the Herald-Bulletin. However, a $5 million investment from General Motors' new venture capital arm in August has given the company a boost.

The Web site MLive.com, a partnership among several Michigan newspapers, said the state granted Bright a tax credit of $4.3 million over five years to locate its tech center there.

Anderson Economic Development Director Linda Dawson told the Herald-Bulletin that the city and state offered competitive incentives.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. reportedly offered about $4 million in incentives and the city $300,000 in tax abatements.

“Our community has invested considerable efforts and money over the last couple years in Bright, and we had high hopes that we would be able to retain the company’s operations in Anderson,” Dawson told the newspaper. “The city offered a very lucrative incentive package.”

Brylawski said Bright’s decision to locate the tech center in Michigan will have no bearing on where it locates its manufacturing plant, which it hopes could employ as many as 1,000 and produce 50,000 vehicles a year. The company is evaluating several sites to manufacture its hybrid vehicles, he said.
 

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