Crafted by Lear: Auto supplier cultivates its Detroit roots

Lear Corporation spent about $10 million to acquire and renovate what originally housed the Brown Brothers Cigar Co. when it was built 129 years ago. Long abandoned, the six-story brick building was acquired by Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock development arm and, Simoncini proudly notes, is the only piece of property that Bedrock has sold since it began gobbling up large swaths of downtown real estate in 2012. Still a work in progress, the Innovation Center brings together Lear designers and engineers, as well as 20 paid interns from Wayne State University and the College for Creative Studies, both in Detroit. 

“This building (will) generate creative, cutting-edge ideas that, in five years, I believe, will begin to go into production, whether it’s the design of a seat or the software that runs a car,” says Lear CEO Matt Simoncini, a Mike Ilitch School of Business alumnus.

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