Former GM plant rebranded to attract new global company

Apr 18, 2012

A former General Motors plant in a Grand Rapids suburb is getting new life and a new identity.

The 2 million square foot stamping plant in Wyoming, Michigan was the first manufacturing plant sold after GM’s bailout. The more than 75 year old plant is almost completely demolished now. The plant was once the city of Wyoming’s largest taxpayer and employer.

Now it’s been rebranded as “Site 36”. (It’s located on 36th street in Wyoming.)

“We cannot go to a customer, a company, a site consultant and say ‘well we’ve got a former General Motors site.’ Okay? That brings with it a certain image,” said Birgit Klohs, President and CEO of The Right Place. It’s an economic development group based in Grand Rapids that’s helping market the site to international companies.  

Klohs says rebranding the site is important for the people who live here too. “We’re done grieving. We need to come up with the next strategy and rebranding to us was a key issue for us in saying it’s time for the 21st century,” Klohs said.

She says the large size, local workforce and direct access to railroads and highways are already attracting large global companies. Plus the site will be “shovel ready” by this summer, with cleanup work and demolition of the former GM plant nearly complete.

Klohs says they're recruiting global Fortune 100 companies for Site 36. She says more than 70 companies have already shown interest in the site. Those companies are in advanced manufacturing, food processing, medical device and pharmaceutical industries, and alternative energy.

But she says the community needs to be patient.

“I’m not the world’s most patient woman but when it comes to this kind of thing, we’re looking for a very specific kind of company; a special company.” She says ideally it’ll be between 18 and 36 months before a new company moves in.

She expects the company will have a profound impact on West Michigan’s economy.