FLINT (WJRT) - (06/27/17) - An automotive supplier is showing interest in opening a new facility in Flint. Lear Corporation, the maker of car seats and other automotive equipment, has been in contact with Mayor Karen Weaver.
The company is interested in 902 East Hamilton, where Buick headquarters used to stand.
"We appreciate Lear Corp. officials wanting to invest in Flint and look forward to the project making a positive impact in the community," Weaver said.
Monday night, the Flint City Council passed a resolution to enter into a development agreement with Lear, which is recommended by Weaver. This is just a preliminary step. RTAB still has to approve the proposal, but if it did happen, it could be an economic boost for the city.
"It would be nice to take one vacant parcel and develop it, so it's not such an eyesore, make it productive again. It would also be a psychological boost for the city that has seen lots of plant closing, lots of layoffs, lots of joblessness over the last several years," said Chris Douglas, economics professor at the University of Michigan-Flint.
Buick World Headquarters were demolished in 2005. The land on Hamilton is across the street from the former site of Buick City. If the property is developed, it could bring in more tax revenue.
"Lots of times, when a city lures a major corporation to the city, they have to promise various tax breaks, tax incentives and so forth," Douglas said.
Lear's interest is not a guarantee the corporation will build there, but there has been a trend in recent years of manufacturing firms returning to brownfield sites.
With how automated production is, with how few manufacturing workers you need to build stuff nowadays, the labor costs are becoming less and less relevant. So you're seeing corporations moving back to the U.S., locating perhaps in brownfields where they used to be located.
A Lear executive says the company is always considering new locations for expansion. He says Lear has not made any kind of a commitment to the city.