03-08-13 | Blog Post

Online Tech at Forefront of Flint’s Effort to Repurpose Shuttered Auto Industry Properties

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The fledgling rebirth of Detroit has received plenty of attention as tech startup companies sprout up amid the modern-day ruins that symbolize its manufacturing past. But Michigan’s largest city isn’t the only one shaking free of its rust belt reputation.

Flint, the birthplace of General Motors, once had 80,000 residents employed by the automaker. That number shrank to less than 8,000 by the time GM and Chrysler entered bankruptcy proceedings in 2009.

The struggling city’s attempt at a comeback focuses on repurposing some of the 15 shuttered former GM sites spread around Genesee County. Just three of those closed locations have found a new life to date.

One of them – a site originally built by EDS as General Motor’s IT disaster recovery data center – became Online Tech’s Mid-Michigan data center, offering premier hosting for mid-size firms.

In 2005, Online Tech invested $1 million to get the 32,500 square foot Flint Township facility up to its compliance standards. The company recently announced plans to invest another $1 million in the center and hire additional employees by the end of 2013.

Today, the Mid-Michigan data center is one of the biggest in the state and the anchor of Online Tech’s three Michigan locations.

“We wouldn’t have naturally moved here if we wouldn’t have been able to find these assets that were left behind that we could leverage into growing this business,” Online Tech co-CEO Mike Klein told MLive.com. “It would be great to see other companies leverage the assets that GM has left behind.”

While Online Tech will continue to look for similar opportunities as part of its plan to add four Midwest data centers to its portfolio, other companies are also repurposing old GM locations in the Flint Area.

According to MLive, the former GM Great Lakes Tech Centre is filling up with healthcare industry tenants and internet auction company Repocast.com recently renovated a 100,000-square-foot facility once owned by a GM supplier.

Former auto industry properties can be a difficult sell because of their large scale and brownfield classification. But recent reports continue to suggest that Michigan is quickly rebounding. The state is third in high tech job growth nationally and a report released Wednesday puts Michigan as the No. 4 state for major new corporate facilities and expansions in 2012.

Related Links:

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