GM to invest $1.2B in Fort Wayne plant

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. said Tuesday it will invest $1.2 billion at its Fort Wayne Assembly Plant in Roanoke, Indiana, the latest announcement tied to the company's $5.4 billion in spending at U.S. plants over three years.

The Detroit automaker said Fort Wayne will get a new pre-treating paint operation, plus an expanded body shop; larger material parts sequencing centers; and upgrades to the general assembly area for light- and heavy-duty trucks. Work is set to begin next month and will take several years to finish, GM said.

The investment will not create any new jobs, but will retain about 3,800 jobs, GM spokesman Bill Grotz said.

"Truck customers demand top quality," Cathy Clegg, GM North America manufacturing vice president, said in a statement. "The upgrades at Fort Wayne Assembly will enable our team to continue delivering for them for years to come."

New construction at the plant is expected to add 1.5 million square feet of new space, according to the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

The Indiana economic development agency offered GM up to $500,000 in training grants and will provide the community with up to $5 million in infrastructure assistance from a state fund. The Indiana Department of Transportation is giving up to $4.6 million to Allen County for public infrastructure help, while Allen County also approved additional incentives to GM.

Fort Wayne Assembly, founded in 1986, builds double and regular cab versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra light- and heavy-duty pickups. The plant, which is some 3 million square feet in size, employs about 3,800 on three shifts.

Grotz would not say whether this announcement is tied to GM's next generation of full-size pickups. He said the investment will help make the plant more competitive.

GM said in late April that it planned to spend $5.4 billion through 2017 to upgrade its U.S. plants and to date has announced about $2.6 billion of that total. GM's total investment is expected to create 650 new jobs and retain thousands of others.

Last week, GM announced it will invest $439 million at its Bowling Green Assembly Plant in Kentucky for a 450,000-square-foot paint shop at the facility that builds the Chevrolet Corvette sports car. That investment is expected to retain 150 jobs.

The carmaker is considering a $161 million investment at its Flint Truck Assembly Plant that would retain 2,800 jobs. GM already is spending $600 million on a new paint shop at Flint Assembly that is expected to become operational next year. Last week, GM spokesman Tom Wickham said the company has not made a decision on the Flint Assembly project as it was trying to secure local and state tax incentives and was reviewing the business case for the investment.

It's also considering a nearly $1.3 billion expansion at GM's Arlington Assembly Plant in Texas. The company recently received tax abatement approval from the city of Arlington, which says GM's project would create 589 jobs.

Earlier this month, GM said it would spend $174 million at the Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kansas, for new equipment and technology for the next-generation 2016 Chevrolet Malibu.

GM in late April said it would spend $783.5 million at three Michigan plants: $124 million at Pontiac Metal Center for a new press; $520 million at Lansing Delta Township Assembly for future vehicles; and $139.5 million for a new body shop and stamping plant improvements at Warren Pre-Production Operations.