Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. announced plans for its future Suzuki Marine Technical Center USA, scheduled to be built on a 20-acre waterfront property in Panama City, Fla. 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."
Suzuki 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 hp) using the resources this unique location provides – a launch ramp, a large basin area for running and testing boats/motors and a protected harbor.
The location was previously used for Marine Transportation’s Logistical Headquarters (MT) 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. 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.
As Suzuki moves forward with these projects and improvements, development will be guided by the company’s commitment to the coastal environment and marine habitat. Suzuki said it is concerned for the environment and intends to develop and use the property with sustainability and environmental friendliness in mind. Suzuki has several Green Initiatives here and around the world. At the recent 2020 Miami International Boat Show, Suzuki kicked off a “kick plastic “movement and is promoting the use of other recyclable material where practical in place of plastic. In addition, Suzuki is redesigning its parts and accessory packaging to use less plastic. Suzuki is committed to the marine environment and working with the city, county and state for a better Florida.
“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."
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. 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.
Bay County has also been very involved throughout this project.
As stated by Bay County Commissioner, Tommy Hamm, "We are elated to welcome Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. to Bay County. Suzuki is a world-renowned leader in the marine industry and we certainly proud that they have selected Bay County for their USA Marine Technical Center." Commissioner Hamm continues. "Suzuki will be a great addition to our community, and we are excited that this investment and new job creation is occurring right here in Bay County, Florida. Suzuki has a corporate commitment to our coastal environment and marine habitat, and we are proud to have companies like this select Bay County.”
Suzuki expects that during the first year, three to five people will be employed at the facility and live in the area. At various times, additional part-time employees will be needed depending upon the workload.
Over the next three years, Suzuki expects to add additional employees every year as the scope of operation grows. In addition, Suzuki intends to use the facility for new product launches, testing and training. Suzuki has more than 1,200 dealers and does business with more than 150 U.S.-based boat companies, who along with engineers from Japan, will be visiting the facility. These activities will contribute to the local economy through increased air travel, hotel stays, restaurant visits, and other assorted expenses associated with business travel.
“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.”