FLINT (WJRT) (6/12/2019) - General Motors was founded in Flint and will remain a big part of the city for years to come, the company's president said on Wednesday.
Mark Reuss came to Flint Assembly on Wednesday to announce the latest investment in the plant totaling $150 million. He said 1,000 workers added to the plant from now-closed GM plants started here June 3.
This makes GM's footprint in Flint nearly 5,000 salary and hourly jobs -- the largest in the company. Reuss said GM is going anywhere.
"We are committed here for the long term," he said. "These are not short-term investments. Paint jobs and expansion of capacity are long-term investments, so we are committed."
That's welcome news for United Auto Workers Local 598 Chairman Eric Welter, who believes GM left Flint behind for several years.
"For a long time we certainly could argue that GM had no commitment to Flint. But certainly with Mark's leadership, they're reinvesting in the Flint community and this site in particular," he said.
The investments extend beyond Flint Assembly. GM has constructed a new paint facility and expanded Flint Engine Operations on the same location in recent years. GM's investments in Flint total $1.6 billion since 2013.
"Really the whole complex has had a lot of investments in the last few years to keep a footprint here in Flint," Welter said. "I think, seeing it's the birthplace of both the UAW and General Motors, it's an important place to keep a footprint."
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said GM's investments are a big boost for the city and create an optimistic energy for economic development efforts. Assembly Plant Manager Mike Perez is excited for the positive ripple effects for the community.
"I've got to tell you it's so exciting to be in the position that we're in right now," he said. "Today's announcement is really icing on the cake. The beauty of what comes out of it is we know that when we grow the community grows with us."
Reuss said the success of Flint's manufacturing footprint is important to him on a personal level because he started with General Motors there.
The $150 million investment announced Wednesday will help Flint Assembly build 40,000 more Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD pickup trucks, which have steadily growing demand.
"We have been running flat out for five years straight trying to produce as many trucks as we can," Reuss said during a press conference in the plant on Wednesday.
The first redesigned 2020 Silverado and Sierra models are being shipped from the plant and should arrive on dealers' lots beginning Monday.