Suzuki Motor of America Eyes Marine Tech Center in Panama City, Florida
According to company officials, while the official launch date for this project is still unknown, Suzuki is currently finishing renovations on existing building sites on the property.
"As a mobility company, Suzuki is about empowering people to enjoy the Great Outdoors and travel freely by land and sea," said Max Yamamoto, President Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. "We are planning a state-of-the-art Suzuki Marine Technical Center that will help us to develop, test and refine the best possible Suzuki outboard products for today and tomorrow. Our goal is to improve people's lives on the water, and ensure everyday mobility for as many people as possible," added Yamamoto.
"This comes at a time when the boating industry is facing unparalleled challenges due to the coronavirus outbreak," said Yamamoto. "We are confident that our world and our industry will get through this crisis, which is why we are moving forward with this plan for the future."
Suzuki said it plans to work in collaboration with U.S.-based boat and accessory manufacturers to develop and improve its products (currently outboard motors from 2.5 to 350 horsepower) using the resources this unique location provides – a launch ramp, a large basin area for running and testing boats/motors, and a protected harbor.
Bay Economic Development Alliance said the location was previously used for Marine Transportation's Logistical Headquarters and a Florida State University Research Facility. Suzuki was able to find and acquire this ideal location with the help of various state, county, and city officials who, like Suzuki, were able to see past damages left behind by Hurricane Michael in 2018 to envision what this unique property could someday become.
Suzuki will work with various city, state, and federal government agencies to restore, repair, and develop the site, officials said. This will include improvements to the existing launch ramp, as well as the docks lost in the hurricane, repairing the seawall and repairing/improving the existing basin, refurbishing the existing MT building, and adding additional structures as needed and allowed by proper permitting.
"We are proud to have Suzuki Motor of America developing this new facility in Panama City, and not only from a business perspective," said Ben Lee, Bay Economic Development Alliance (Bay EDA) Chairman. "We already knew Suzuki as a respected, worldwide brand, but as we worked with them in selecting a site, we learned that Suzuki is also a company with a deep respect for the marine and coastal environment. This is precisely the type of business partners we want to bring to our region," said Lee.
The City of Panama City has been intimately involved with the progression of this project.
City of Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki stated, "Suzuki will be an excellent addition to the business community in Panama City. This project also brings new high skilled jobs to our area. This project is exciting as it will be utilizing the fantastic natural assets we have in our community and the project site will be an excellent location to see this project come to fruition. As our community recovers and improves after Hurricane Michael, we are delighted to welcome global companies like Suzuki into our community."
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