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UniFirst Corporation and the City of Taylor have taken the initial steps toward creating a new $15M investment in the City, along with keeping hundreds of jobs here.
City Council unanimously approved the sale of nearly 10 acres of land on the east side of Inkster Road, just south of The Oakwood Group, to UniFirst. The site is between Goddard and Wick roads. UniFirst will pay $150,000 for the vacant land, and plans to build a $15M high-tech facility to house operations there.
UniFirst is the second-largest industrial uniform company in the world, and originated in 1936. It outfits near 2 million workers daily. It started in a horse barn with a dozen workers near Boston 81 years ago. Now is employs 14,000 staffers who serve 300,000 businesses from 255 locations in North America and Europe.
UniFirst’s Taylor location has been at 6400 Monroe Street, on the City northeast side, since it purchased Arrow Uniform in 2016. However, while the corporation purchased Arrow, it did not purchase that site as part of the deal. That Monroe Street facility is nearly four times the size UniFirst presently requires, so the corporation was considering other options with three years remaining on its lease.
Mayor Rick Sollars and Economic Development Director George Sutherland worked hard on a deal that would find the corporation a site to build on in Taylor. UniFirst employs several hundred people, with approximately 300 (or 95 percent) of them residents of the City. The average tenure of UniFirst employees is 10 years.
Earl Harris, a representative of the corporation, told the council that he was very happy with the agreement. “This will allow us to grow in the market,” he said. “We want to keep the jobs here. It’s important to keep longtime employees. We want to make this a long-term relationship with Taylor.”
Harris said that he thought the business would grow to add approximately 100 jobs in the next five to 10 years.
UniFirst’s tentative plans are to build am 85,000-square-foot facility along Inkster Road, which will include 10,000 square feet of office space. The approximate $15M price tag includes the building, equipment cost and fleet maintenance. It was noted that future investment could include a facility expansion, job transfers, Midwest regional office space and training facilities.