PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, MI — A chemical company is building a new innovation center and regional headquarters in the Ann Arbor area.

Wacker Chemical Corporation is investing in a nearly 14-acre site at 4950 S. State St. in Pittsfield Township. The North American Innovation Center and Regional Headquarters will house 300 employees, including those in its Adrian headquarters and 70 new “highly-paid” employees within the next five years, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Two-thirds of the Adrian employees will remain to continue production of elastomers, silicone fluids and silicone emulsions.

The company is expected to break ground before the end of the year and complete the project by 2022, MEDC spokeswoman Kathleen Achtenberg said.

“We are excited to move forward with our Innovation Center and Regional Headquarters to be located within Michigan,” Wacker CEO David Wilhoit said in a statement. “Our new facility will enable future growth in the state and serve as an important anchor for our operations across North America. This area is one of the nation’s leading communities for R&D. We look forward to networking with, and recruiting from, this highly educated and skilled talent base.”

Chemical company looking at Ann Arbor area to build headquarters

The company sought out the Ann Arbor area to tap into the local talent pool. Business offices will take up more than 70% of the building and about 30% will be dedicated to research and development, according to the site plan. Pittsfield Charter Township offered a 50% property tax abatement to support the project. The site was last sold to Maui Properties LLC for $890,000 in September 2019, property records show.

The company in 2017, the company established a footprint in Ann Arbor with a research and product development center. The new $51-million headquarters project will receive a $1-million

The chemical industry is gaining momentum after being stuck in a rut for a spell. The industry’s upturn is backed by improved macroeconomic conditions and a revival of demand across major chemical end-use markets.

The chemical industry reeled under the effects of the coronavirus pandemic during the first half of 2020. The pandemic put brakes on industrial activities globally, squeezing demand for chemicals across key end-markets. Nevertheless, an economic rebound in China, a top consumer of chemicals, and a return of economic activities across the world augur well for the industry for the remainder of 2020.

With the easing of restrictions on business activities globally, demand for chemicals has recovered of late across major end-use industries such as construction and automotive. The global economy is gradually pulling out of its coronavirus-induced slumber as businesses reopen following lockdowns and restrictions. Moreover, recent positive manufacturing data from the United States, Eurozone and China indicates that the global manufacturing recovery remains on track.

Economic activities in China are picking up speed as the country continues its recovery from the pandemic-led slowdown. Notably, the recovery in the country’s manufacturing gathered momentum in September on government stimulus to boost consumption and strong growth in new export orders driven by a rebound in overseas demand. China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (“PMI”) expanded to 51.5 in September from 51 in August, per National Bureau of Statistics.  A reading above 50 indicates expansion in activity.

Moreover, the U.S. manufacturing sector kept the momentum going in September although activities rose at a slightly slower pace than that of August. According to the Institute for Supply Management (“ISM”), the U.S. Manufacturing PMI clocked 55.4% in September compared with 56% in August. The September figure indicates an expansion in the overall economy for the fifth straight month following a contraction

BELDING, MI — State regulators will likely fine a manufacturer that caused multiple toxic chlorine gas releases in a residential area $115,000 and forbid the company from using the chemical which caused the releases.

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy officials announced Monday morning, Oct. 5, the proposed measures against Kassouni Manufacturing Inc. as part of a settlement order. The settlement order, as proposed, will remain in effect for at least two years.

EGLE is accepting public comments on the proposed order through Nov. 4. Barring significant public comment on the settlement, the order fining the company and forbidding it from using the gas-releasing chemical will go into effect following the public comment period.

The proposed order relates to multiple fires and minor chlorine gas releases in summer 2019.

No one was injured during the fires and gas releases, but nearby residents reported the stench of chlorine in the air and a burning feeling on their skin as a thick fog blanketed the area.

State regulators at the time said KMI repeatedly mishandled the chemical, called trichloroisocyanuric acid, responsible for the fire and gas releases. KMI used the chemical to produce pool-chlorinating tablets.

KMI, located next to a residential area of Belding at 815 S Front St., also manufactures other products not related to the chemical, like its ice melt for roofs.

Trichloroisocyanuric acid catches fire and releases chlorine gas when exposed to small amounts of water. Rainwater entered the building through holes in the roofs. City officials previously said the company put tarps under the holes to direct rainwater into containers.

Related: Belding manufacturer scrutinized for chemical fires loses supplier, purchaser

Following the June and July 2019 fires, KMI was ordered by the court to temporarily not use or store the chemical at its facility following a