Ivanka Trump makes stop at GM's Global Tech Center in Warren

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Warren — Ivanka Trump on Wednesday made a stop at General Motors Co.'s Global Technical Center, where the president's daughter met with company officials and workers, and emphasized Donald Trump's role in what she called "opening all the ways to career success."

Mary Barra, the Detroit automaker's CEO and chairman, and Karen Dunn Kelley, deputy Commerce Department secretary, joined Trump on the tour that highlighted GM's commitment to continued workforce learning for hourly skilled trades workers and salaried manufacturing engineers. The company last month completed $2 million in updates to its robotics and manufacturing laboratory facilities.

Ivanka Trump observes a robot during her visit Wednesday at GM's Global Technical Center in Warren.

Although a White House spokesman said her visit was official business and not a campaign stop, the president's daughter did not hesitate to extol her father two months ahead of the election.

"This is a continuation of what we've been doing in this space, focusing on investing in our most important resource in this country, which is our people whether they be students or workers, as we'll see today," Ivanka Trump said ahead of the tour. "This is something the president has been passionate about since the day he took office, championing the American worker and creating pathways and opportunities for the American worker."

Joshua Solomon, team leader for remote laser welding and flexible fabrication, spoke about "smart factories" and automating machines and their ability to speed production of auto parts.

The group proceeded to a classroom with nine electrical apprentices from GM's assembly plant in Lansing Delta Township. Apprentices Dan Leung and Zephirin Hunt demonstrated their "safety module" that ensures the line is ready to produce. Trump joked that running the machine may be "really simple for you," after Hunt made a comment that it was, and that the job was definitely something "you want to get right."

She asked about their experiences and how they found out about the apprenticeship program. Hunt had been a temporary worker for two years at the Flint Truck plant in Michigan. Leung had been at Delta Township for 27 years.

The issue of U.S. manufacturing has come to the forefront as the election nears. Michigan is a critical swing state that the president won in 2016 by fewer than 11,000 votes.

Ivanka Trump observes a robot during her visit to GM Technical Learning University.

GM is a partner in the White House's advertising campaign that urges workers who are jobless or unhappy with their position to "Find Something New." The automaker also signed the White House’s Pledge to America’s Workers, committing 46,000 training opportunities for their workforce. GM's university has trained more than 300 GM employees.

"It's a world now where we need to have continual learning," Barra said.

Ahead of Ivanka Trump's visit, the Michigan Democratic Party criticized the president's uneven response to the coronavirus pandemic and his 2016 promise in Warren that Michigan would not lose "one plant." GM last year closed its Warren Transmission plant, though it has been used this year to make face masks and N95 respirators in response to COVID-19.

Trump is at least the third official in the current administration to visit a GM facility in recent months. Vice President Mike Pence in April traveled to Kokomo, Indiana, where GM was building ventilators for the national stockpile. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette also visited the Warren campus in July to announce $139 million in federal funding to support advanced vehicle technologies.

Ivanka Trump previously visited Michigan in 2017 for an event with Quicken Loans Chairman Dan Gilbert promoting K-12 education programs on coding and computer science. She also was in the state during the 2016 presidential campaign to participate in a Michigan Women In Business Roundtable in Hudsonville. 


Twitter: @BreanaCNoble