Eco-friendly Tesla supplier to locate in Flint, create 380 jobs

By Emily Lawler - MLive.com

LANSING, MI -- An injection molding company that supplies Tesla is slated to bring 380 jobs to Flint under a deal approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund Tuesday.

C3 Ventures is an eco-friendly injection molding company that supplies Tesla. It's moving to Flint because it saw tremendous opportunity, said chairman and founder Bob Schaffer, and will be moving facilities there from China and Turkey.

The company plans to locate in Flint with a $5.7 million loan through the Michigan Business Development Program, said Jeremy Webb, business development project manager with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. That loan could turn into a grant if job creation targets are met.

The company plans to invest $9.68 million in the city and create 380 jobs.

C3 is a company that focuses on clean, green manufacturing of car parts and supplies Tesla.

"We're actually going to recycle Flint's water bottles, which are accumulating at a mammoth rate right now, into different car parts," said Bob Waun, CEO with C3 Ventures.

Schaffer said the company did work in Pontiac and realized there was a reason these Michigan cities had become auto hubs.

"We recognized there's a reason these places developed in the first place. They're very well located, there's great infrastructure in these places, and the labor pool is both skilled and educated and hardworking and industrious," Schaffer said. 

"So it was a natural after the work we did in Pontiac to look at Flint and say here's a town that's grossly underutilized that has so much opportunity. That with a little bit of creativity and effort we can do great things there," he added.

Flint City Administrator Sylvester Jones said the investment would help the city.

"We have made economic development a priority for the city of Flint. Not only is it a good response to the water crisis, but it's also something significant to a city that has dealt with the challenges that Flint has faced over the years," Jones said.

Rep. Phil Phelps, D-Flushing, said in a statement he supported the project.

"This is great news for the city of Flint and its residents who need good-paying jobs," Phelps said. "The fact that a company chose to move its operation from China to Michigan — rather than the other way around, which is sadly more common — makes it that much sweeter."

Gov. Rick Snyder also praised the company's investment in Flint.

"The investment approved today will bring up to 400 new jobs to Flint, in an innovative venture that turns recycling into auto parts," he said. "The state will continue to support the city during its water recovery, and in addition will remain involved in long-term economic development. I'm very pleased to see this manufacturing plant established within the city, and hope it is the first of many new employers to invest in Flint."

MEDC CEO Steve Arwood said that after the deal's approval, the next step would be training Flint residents for the types of jobs C3 Ventures provides.

"Now the next step will be working with the company and Flint, the workforce development board... to make sure that we get them a supply of folks to interview and be ready to do these jobs," Arwood said.

The company plans a press conference in Flint later Tuesday.