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Whirlpool to build new office campus

BENTON HARBOR, Mich., July 15 (UPI) -- Whirlpool Corp. will build a three-building, $85 million riverfront office campus in its hometown of Benton Harbor, Mich., the appliance maker said Thursday.

The move is seen as a major boost for the city, struggling after a 1980s industrial exodus and run by a state-appointed emergency financial manager since April.

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The campus will be part of a larger consolidation of 15 owned and leased sites in southwest Michigan into three complexes, Whirlpool said.

The consolidation will relocate more than 4,000 employees from those 15 buildings to the three complexes over five years, Whirlpool communications and public affairs Vice President Jeff Noel told the Detroit Free Press.

Whirlpool will be able to reduce operating costs with the changes and the buildings will be more energy-efficient than the 15 far-flung buildings, he said.

Whirlpool expects a third of the estimated $85 million to come from state and local government incentives.

The Michigan Economic Growth Authority is expected to approve a package of tax incentives for the new project Tuesday, the newspaper said.

Whirlpool, the world's largest home appliance maker, employs more than 70,000 people around the world.

The company markets Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Gladiator Garage Works, Inglis, Estate, Brastemp, Bauknecht, Consul and other brands. It reported sales of more than $17 billion last year.

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