CLAYCOMO, Mo. - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and representatives from Ford and the United Auto Workers union announced Friday morning that the Ford plant in Claycomo will receive a $1.1 billion investment.
The investment is reported to add 1,600 new jobs over the next four years.
“Right here, right now, the rebirth of the American auto industry begins today,” Nixon said according to a release. “And let me be clear: It’s no accident that it starts here in Missouri. For generations, Missouri workers have led the way with their heads, with their hands, and with their hearts. Today, Missouri’s auto workers are once again leading the way for our state, for our country, and the world.”
John Fleming, Ford's executive vice president for Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs, said the announcement is a game-changer for the company and its customers.
"Kansas City will be completely transformed,” Fleming said. “This workforce will be building a product that actually few Americans have ever seen."
In all, it's a $1.1 billion investment that will bring 1,600 new jobs, bringing the total workforce at the plant to 5,400.
The announcement clears up a lot of questions. In January 2011, Ford announced they'd move production of the Escape SUV to Louisville, Kentucky, making way for an as-yet unnamed new type of vehicle.
Friday’s announcement is part of Ford’s goal of consolidating their worldwide product offerings. The Transit, which Ford said is Europe’s best-selling commercial van, is made and sold exclusively in Europe. Now, Ford wants to make it their global workhorse van, mostly replacing the E-Series van.
The Transit won’t roll off the assembly lines until 2013. Ford’s schedule has the Escape ceasing production in Claycomo in April 2012, followed almost immediately by an upgrade to handle production of the Transit.
Another part of Friday’s announcement is that Ford will also build a separate stamping plant on a nearby field in Liberty to make body parts for the Transit. That 500,000 square foot facility is expected to employ 500 workers.
"This will be the single largest private capital investment in Liberty's history," Liberty Mayor Greg Canuteson said in a prepared statement. "During the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, bringing in 250 manufacturing jobs is a remarkable testament to the City's efforts to create jobs, enlarge our tax base and diversify our local economy."
And Ford will add a second shift to its F-150 pickup line in May 2012, adding 800 jobs.
Jeff Wright, president of UAW Local 249, said this is a vote of confidence in the workers.
"We're going to be building trucks and vans in Kansas City for the next generation,” Wright said. “It's great news."
Ford is taking advantage of state tax breaks made possible in the Missouri Manufacturing Jobs Act. It gives tax incentives to companies that meet strict standards in creating new jobs.
Nixon said one advantage of this particular incentive is that the company doesn’t receive tax breaks until after workers in newly-created jobs are in place.
"I believe that's a way that economic development, rather than many other ways, is also a template for the future, to have job guarantees,” Nixon said.
State House member Jerry Nolte, a Republican from Gladstone, said the incentives attracted bipartisan support in the legislature.
"We're getting an 11-to-1 return on this investment, which I don't see where you can get that in this day and age," Nolte said.
Ford also says overwhelming approval of a new labor deal contributed to Friday's announcement.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Missouri Neighborhood News
A Clay Co. collector sent an e-mail to her staff from her personal account in hopes to circumvent the Sunshine Law.