Michigan Aerospace Expands Operations

October 16, 2008
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Michigan Aerospace Corp. has moved into Battle Creek to get closer to the public, private and military entities that are driving the business of aviation and homeland security here.

Michigan Aerospace wanted to establish permanent relationships with the kinds of manufacturers that would be able to help them with precise and intricate aerospace-related manufacturing, said Jack Miner, managing director of BC Ventures, Battle Creek Unlimited’s technology development program and business accelerator. The company found the “connections” it needed in Fort Custer Industrial Park and neighboring W.K. Kellogg Airport.

Michigan Aerospace performs advanced engineering services and develops products for the defense, homeland security, industrial and biomedical sectors. Its products, which are used by U.S. government and aerospace customers, are designed to protect borders from radiation, nuclear, chemical and biological threats.

The company got started in 1996 as a spin-off of the University of Michigan. Today it’s a leader in the development of light detection and ranging optical systems for atmospheric measurements. The company has developed chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives detection technologies, launch and retrieval systems for the Navy, and anomaly detection and image processing software.

W.K. Kellogg Airport is the base of operations for about 55 private entities, including West Michigan University College of Aviation Sciences, the Battle Creek Air National Guard, Duncan Aviation and WACO Classic Aircraft. The airport has been cited as the fastest growing general aviation airport in the United States. Representatives of Michigan Aerospace visited Fort Custer and W.K. Kellogg and met with Duncan Aviation officials and the dean of the College of Aviation, as well as with some local manufacturers, Miner said.

“They felt we had some capacity that would be able to help them out, so they put in place a product manager to be the liaison between Battle Creek’s and Ann Arbor’s existing manufacturers,” Miner explained.

Michigan Aerospace’s product manager is operating out of leased office space in Fort Custer. Longer term, the company may buy equipment and lease or build another facility, Miner said. The company is headquartered in Ann Arbor and does all its research and development there.

“That’s what makes the project so good and makes it work so well, not only for Battle Creek, but also for Ann Arbor,” Miner said. “We started working with Ann Arbor SPARK and Michigan Aerospace about 10 months ago to figure out how we could take advantage of the assets we have here in Battle Creek and also keep things in Ann Arbor that make sense there. We’re demonstrating how communities can work together to help build Michigan businesses.” 

Michigan Aerospace has been outsourcing fabrication work to different job shops in Oakland and Wayne counties.

“We’re really formalizing the fabrication here and developing a platform for them that in the longer term may even include a manufacturing facility,” Miner said.

Peter Tchoryk, CEO of Michigan Aerospace, said it’s a perfect time to build a business in Michigan because “there’s so much support from local development groups, universities and private investors.” CQX

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