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Editorial: GM announces another big investment as the output of local factories climbs

General Motors’ recent commitment to manufacturing in the United States, coupled with an earlier announcement affecting this region, are good news for factory workers, regardless of the political winds blowing.

GM says it will spend $1 billion to expand vehicle production in the United States, allowing the company to add or keep 1,500 jobs.

The announcement was actually years in the making, but it followed Donald Trump’s criticism of automakers for building cars in Mexico.

Company officials said they will shift certain production and supplier jobs to Michigan from Mexico and, in doing so, create more than 500 jobs in the United States. They’re being tight-lipped as to how many jobs were new and how many would move from Mexico.

This latest investment is another sign of health for GM, which was in bankruptcy eight years ago.
Ford and Fiat-Chrysler have also announced significant investments in domestic production. The moves came before Trump threatened to impose a 35 percent tax on cars made elsewhere and sold in the United States.

General Motors is not saying which plants will benefit from the investment. GM operates two Buffalo Niagara plants, the Tonawanda engine plant and a Lockport components facility. Even if the new plans bypass Western New York, those jobs were solidified last year when the automaker announced it would invest $328 million in the local plants, including $296 million for a new engine line in Tonawanda.

That was a fortunate announcement, because GM also announced that it would cut about 3,300 jobs at three U.S. plants this year due to slowing demand for cars.

Bucking that trend, a survey showed that the region’s manufacturers finished strong in December, ending the year with four straight months of growth. That included the largest increase in 18 months during December, a significant reversal from earlier in the year.

As News business reporter David Robinson wrote, the December gain was evidence of a turnaround in local manufacturers, reversing a seven-month slide that lasted from February through August. And the improvement occurred alongside a rebound in the statewide Empire State Manufacturing Survey, which rates the relative level of general business activity in the state. Last month, the survey saw its highest level since April.

After years of decline, hopeful signs are welcome in Rust Belt territory.

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