GM Invests Big in Manufacturing

Gary S. Vasilash

If you think back to 1989 and Roger & Me, Michael Moore’s scathing film about General Motors—and remember: this is 1989, not 2009, the Year of Bankruptcy—you’ll undoubtedly recall that Flint, Michigan, where Moore was born, was pretty much a blighted landscape where one woman apparently had to sell rabbits for “Pets or Meat.” One can only imagine that in the years since, Flint, which continues to have a huge debt problem, would be completely Beyond Thunderdome by now. Sure, the city has massive problems. But it is far from being a blighted wasteland.

Flint Assembly

Earlier this week, General Motors announced that it is investing $600-million at Flint Assembly. Of the five plants in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana that it announced investments in, Flint tops the list.

Clearly, GM still has a stake in the city.

At Flint Assembly some 2,950 people—three shifts, five days—produce GMC Sierra pickups as well as heavy-duty Chevy Silverados.

The investment is for a new paint shop, a 596,000-ft-sq. facility that is scheduled to come on line in Q3 2016.

Also getting investments are:

· Romulus Power Train Operations (Michigan): Of the $493.4-million, $343.4-million will be used for equipment to produce an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission. The balance will be for a capacity increase for a previously announced V6

· Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly: $121-million for a 450,000-sq. ft. Logistics Optimization Center. It is schedule to open fall 2014. GM anticipates a $5-million savings from the center next year.

· Toledo Transmission Operations (Ohio): they’re building both front- and rear-drive transmissions in Toledo. With the $30.6-million they’ll be increasing capacity and purchasing tooling to produce a new six-speed variant.

· Bedford Powertrain (Indiana): Total announced investment: $29.2-million. Of it, $22.6-million will be for producing components for the new 10-speed; the balance is for tooling and equipment for the existing six-speed transmission components it produces.

Another thing to note about this ~$1.3-billion investment that General Motors is making: It is in the heart of the Rust Belt.

Several years ago the pundits would have had us believe that by now the whole area would be a pile of iron oxide by now. Seems like that’s not right.