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Indian auto supplier to breathe new life into Detroit's Southwestern High School

Sarah Hulett
Michigan Radio

An Indian manufacturing company is buying Southwestern High School in Detroit, and expanding its operations in the city.

Sakthi Automotive makes lightweight metal car parts. The company already has operations on either side of the high school. It’s getting $3.5 million in incentives from the Michigan Strategic Fund, and Detroit will spend $900,000 in federal money to tear down a portion of the building.

Sakthi and its partner ProVisions say they’ll invest $31 million in the project. Sakthi officials say lightweight metal car parts that are produced in China will soon be produced at the Detroit facilities, bringing 70 jobs in the short term.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the part of the high school built in the 1920s will be preserved and used to train engineers, “so a building that was a center for education for more than a century is going to become a center for education today as well.”

Eventually, the company is expected to employ 650 people, some of them ex-offenders. That’s something Duggan says he’d like to see more of in the city.

“I understand that in Baltimore, the number-one hirer of ex-offenders is Johns Hopkins hospitals,” Duggan said, "So next I'm going to go to my hospital friends and see if we can't extend even more opportunities."

Duggan is the former CEO of the Detroit Medical Center.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.