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NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, MI-Colliers International is again looking for a needle in a haystack after a 108,000-sf high-tech research building loses two tenants in a row. Nanovation Technologies Inc., an optical components manufacturer, is moving out of the building at Five Mile and Beck roads after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company also laid off 120 people. The building, owned by Guardian Glass, is the former home of OIS Optical Imaging Systems Inc., says Larry Kelly, a senior vice president at the Bingham Farms, MI office of Colliers. OIS was a company that created military graphic readouts for helicopters, Kelly says, but the company went under.

Then Nanovation came along in 2000 and brought its headquarters into the building, Kelly says, promising to hire hundreds of locals and spend about $40 million to rebuild the site. The company also received $10 million in tax credits from the state to bring the facility from Miami to Michigan.

Situated on 20 acres, the four-year-old plant includes premier clean rooms vital for the semiconductor manufacturing of nanophotonic devices, as well as space for engineering development, R&D, prototype construction, assembly and test, environmental screening, offices and shipping and receiving. The company was created five years ago from Northwestern University of Evanston, IL research.

“This consolidation will allow us to cut costs through reduced overhead, increase our efficiency by bringing our resources closer together, and cut time to market,” says Nanovation Acting CEO and President Bob Chaney. “This decision is a natural step toward our goal to be the undisputed leader in integrated optical devices.”

The company was supposed to bring more than $45 million in tax revenue to the state. However, the company went into bankruptcy this summer to avoid a takeover from its largest stockholder, Stamford International Inc. of Toronto. It is possible the company could pull out of its spiral, but Kelly says it will likely move out of the building.

“We’re now marketing the building again,” Kelly tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s a phenomenal facility.”

He adds most of the building is clean room space and hopes to bring another high-tech user to the site.

“The state really went the extra mile to bring Nanovation in, and we thought we really scored big,” Kelly says. “It’s a shame that that industry is taking such a big hit in this economy.”

Fortunately, he adds, the building is located just off the I-96 highway, along the high-tech corridor of Ann Arbor and Detroit.

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