LANSING–Waupaca Foundry, a Hitachi Metals company, this week started operations in Ironwood in the far western Upper Peninsula.
The new plant will process iron castings produced at the company’s plants at Waupaca, Wis., about 150 miles away, west of Green Bay. The company’s expansion into the city of Ironwood is expected to generate an investment of $4.3 million and create 61 new jobs.
“Not only are we recognizing the opening of Waupaca Foundry, which is creating good-paying jobs for the U.P. workforce and generating a private investment of up to $4.3 million in the Gogebic County region, but we are celebrating the company for choosing to invest in Michigan’s people and build its future here in our state,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of MEDC, the state’s marketing and business attraction arm that administers the programs of the Michigan Strategic Fund.
“Waupaca’s decision to establish a facility in Ironwood following the closure of the Ojibway Correctional Facility is good news for Gogebic County and will provide great jobs for many of the talented workers here,” Mason said.
The expansion addresses increasing customer demand and adds iron casting processing capabilities, including cleaning and finishing, in a location where there is enough labor supply and an abundance of iron ore deposits.
“The economy is strong, and Waupaca Foundry is growing due to increased customer demand for cast and machined iron castings,” said John Wiesbrock, executive vice president of Waupaca Foundry. “Opening a facility to handle cleaning and finishing of cast parts will allow us to meet customers’ expectations in quality and delivery of their parts.”
Prior to choosing a new location, Waupaca Foundry leaders conducted exploratory job fairs and identified a strong pool of motived, talented workers in the Gogebic County region. As a result of the company’s decision to invest and create jobs in Ironwood, the Michigan Strategic Fund in December 2018 awarded Waupaca a $1.2 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.
“Like many employers across the nation, Waupaca Foundry is finding ways to overcome low unemployment and a shortage of skilled workers,” said Mike Nicolai, the company’s president, CEO and COO. “There simply are not enough workers to fill the open positions we have, so we explored expansion in regions that had a solid base of talented workers.”
“Today’s celebration is made possible thanks to the strategic partnership and collaboration between the city of Ironwood, our local economic development partners at InvestUP, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and of course, Waupaca Foundry,” Mason said. “On behalf of all of us at the MEDC, we are looking forward to working with Waupaca as it begins working in the region.”
Waupaca Foundry produces gray iron, ductile iron, austempered ductile iron and compacted graphite iron castings at seven foundries in North America. It was acquired by the Japanese firm Hitachi Metals in 2014. More at www.waupacafoundry.com.
More about the MEDC and its activities at https://www.michiganbusiness.org/.
In the photo above, John Wiesbrock, executive vice president of Waupaca Foundry, presents Jeff Mason, CEO of the MEDC, with a commemorative plaque produced at Waupaca’s new plant in Ironwood.