General Motors announced yesterday that it would be investing $43.35 million into its Wyoming plant at 2100 Burlingame Ave. SW. This investment should, by General Motors’ calculations, result in the retention of 15 jobs and the creation of 55 more.
In the past decades, the strength of automobile manufacturing has declined significantly and General Motors closed their 2-million-square-foot stamping plant on 36th St. in 2009. This structure was built in 1935, and the employment it ensured built Wyoming and sustained it through jobs and taxes, but the last 1,500 positions were terminated six years ago, and the building was subsequently demolished. The City of Wyoming has been trying to woo businesses to this property (named Site 36) for a number of years with personal property tax abatements and TIF redevelopment dollars and has had some success as manufacturing in general in West Michigan is now on the rise.
The Grand Rapids Operations plant on Burlingame now employs 530 men and women and manufactures a range of precision-machined components for Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, and Cadillac automobiles. These include lash adjusters, roller hydraulic valve lifters, cylinder deactivation lifters, continuously variable cam phasers, and other metal stampings. The planned expansion will add powertrain components to this list.
In a press release Grand Rapids Operations plant manager Rick Demuynck said, “This commitment not only reflects confidence in the Grand Rapids team, along with the leadership of the UAW, but also showcases the sense of ownership and pride our employees have in the products they build.”
This is General Motors’ second announcement of planned investment in West Michigan operations this year. In June they announced that they would reactivate a portion of it’s Wyoming plant with a $119 million investment that would result in 300 new jobs.
Since the Michigan economy and the very infrastructure in most Michigan cities was built in large part to be dependent on the automobile, and many of our jobs in this state depend on the Big Three, whether through direct employment, work in related industries like auto shop jobs, or jobs funded by the taxes generated from auto manufacturing, any increase in this type of employment is welcome news. The necessary diversification of Michigan manufacturing has made this state better able to weather future economic problems, but auto jobs built our middle class, and gave opportunities to generations of people in this state they would not otherwise have had.