KANSAS CITY—The revival of the US auto industry has set off achain reaction in this Midwestern city, as world-class supplierscontinue to set up new facilities to feed the vastGM and Ford factories.

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Martinrea International, one of the largestglobal Tier 1 auto-parts suppliers, for example, has just signed along-term, build-to-suit lease for a 275,560-square-foot buildingin suburban Riverside. The company will use the industrialfacility, which will sit on 15.22 acres at 5233 NW 41st Street inthe Riverside Horizons Business Park, to supplycomponents for Chevy Malibus built at theGeneral Motors Fairfax Plant and create as many as290 new jobs.

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“All of the stars have aligned for Kansas City,” ErikMurray of Lee & Associates tellsGlobeSt.com. Murray and Nathan Anderson, managingprincipal, negotiated the long-term lease. “Both of the plantshere, GM and Ford, went through some fairly extensive upgrades inthe last few years. And there has been a steady stream of supplierslooking to grow their operations.”

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In January 2013, GM announced that it would spend $600 millionto upgrade the Fairfax plant. A few months later, Ford announcedthat it would add 2,000 workers to its Kansas City AssemblyPlant to meet consumer demand for the FordF-150 and produce the new FordTransit.

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Suppliers have responded with a flurry of investment and new construction. As reportedin GlobeSt.com last month, LMV Automotive Systems,just decided to build a new $49.7 million,253,600-square-foot manufacturing operation in suburban Liberty.And that follows a 2012 investment by LMV in another $42 million,212,550-square-foot manufacturing complex in Liberty, where it nowemploys more than 150 workers.

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Furthermore, as reported in GlobeSt.com last November, theSpanish automotive company Grupo Antolin NorthAmerica will invest more than $15.7 million in a148,800-square-foot facility at 1601 Southern Rd. in Kansas City,creating an estimated 118 new jobs. And last May, GlobeSt.comreported that Yanfeng USA Automotive Trim Systemshad just decided to locate a new manufacturing plant in RiversideHorizons.

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“I can't disclose any details of the Martinrea lease deal,”Murray says, but he expects that the Ontario-based Martinrea, as apublic company, will disclose the information at some point. TheTutera Group, led by Joe Tutera,will develop the property in conjunction with CrosslandConstruction and Davidson Architecture &Engineering.

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“This new facility will be the first of its kind for a Tier 1supplier in that it will include stamping, welding, e-coating, andassembly operations all under one roof, creating efficiencies forboth Martinrea and GM,” Murray adds.

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Lee & Associates, the development team, and representativesfrom the Kansas City Area Development Councilvisited Martinrea's Canadian plants and headquarters earlier thisyear to help secure the project for the Kansas City region. “Thefirst priority for a supplier is proximity to the plant,” Murraysays. “After that, the most important thing is havingdevelopment-ready land with infrastructure in place that thedeveloper can finish in a few months.”

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In this case, the site at Riverside Horizons is only fiveminutes from the intersection of I-35 and I-70, and provides quickaccess to the auto plants, the airports, and even downtown KansasCity. And according to Murray, the city of Riverside has investedtens of millions of dollars to build up area infrastructure, whichwill allow the developer to finish this new building in sevenmonths. “That was really the catalyst.”

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“I expect this type of development to continue, absolutely,” hesays. “You're going to see many more suppliers looking at KansasCity.”

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Brian J. Rogal

Brian J. Rogal is a Chicago-based freelance writer with years of experience as an investigative reporter and editor, most notably at The Chicago Reporter, where he concentrated on housing issues. He also has written extensively on alternative energy and the payments card industry for national trade publications.