Bates, a brand of Rockford-based Wolverine Worldwide, makes Temperate Weather Combat boots for the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency. Courtesy Wolverine Worldwide
Wolverine Worldwide has begun an expansion project at a plant in the region that will help it handle additional military contracts it expects to win.
Rockford-based Wolverine Worldwide, a maker of footwear and apparel, said it broke ground this week on a 16,000-square-foot addition to its existing 80,000-square-foot Big Rapids plant.
The expansion was previously projected to cost $1 million.
Wolverine Worldwide expansion should be completed in early 2017.
The additional space will serve as a new raw materials receiving warehouse for the company, which said in September it will relocate its Rockford shipping and receiving operations to the expanded Big Rapids facility.
With a dedicated receiving warehouse, Wolverine Worldwide said it will have additional space available in the factory that can be deployed for manufacturing purposes.
Built in 1964, the Wolverine Worldwide Big Rapids plant originally produced Wolverine and Hush Puppies branded footwear.
Blake Krueger, Wolverine Worldwide chairman, CEO and president, thanked U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga and U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, who attended the groundbreaking, and "the rest of the Michigan delegation," which Wolverine Worldwide said have played a “major role” in adding more than 250 jobs at the Big Rapids plant over the past year.
Krueger said Huizenga and Moolenaar have been “engaged and working hard” to expand opportunities to “create good-paying American jobs.”