FLINT — Ninety-six jobs are being added or saved in Flint and Bay City as a result of a $109 million investment in engine plant operations, announced at a General Motors press conference today at the Flint Engine Plant.
The investment is allocated as $84 million to be used in Flint and $25 million in Bay City to expand production capacity, said Larry Zahner, GM manufacturing manager, in making the announcement. That breaks down to 78 jobs in Flint and 18 in Bay City, he said.
Plans are ramping up to bring new workers on board from now through 2012. Many of them will be called back from GM lay-offs but new hires are possible beyond that, Zahner said.
GM and White House Officials, area politicians and union leaders were present for the announcement that signals growth and a continued return toward prosperity for the Flint-born automaker that was on the verge of bankruptcy two years ago.
“This investment marks the second major increase in engine and engine component output in less than six months,’’ said Terri Burden, Flint Engine Operations Plant Manager, on her second day on the job. She said it is a sign that GM is moving quickly to meet growing demand for more fuel-efficient cars
This comes on the heels of GM’s announcement in November 2010 of its plans to invest $151 million in the Flint and Bay City Plants — adding or protecting 143 jobs.
It also is part of GM”s recent announcement of a $2 billion investment at 17 plants in eight states.
This latest investment in Flint is to increase 1.4 liter engine capacity supporting Ecotec engine production for the Chevrolet Volt, Cruze and Sonic. The Bay City investment is for connecting rods and camshafts used in the engine.
Zahner said he hoped to be back in the near future with similar announcements.
“This is not our last investment in America,’’ he said. “We’re committed to manufacturing and most importantly to manufacturing jobs.’’
In brief remarks, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow said GM has hit the reset button. She recalled feeling “physically ill’’ when the first vote did not pass in the senate in December 2008 to bail GM out of bankruptcy with a government loan. Instead of giving up, they went back and fought to win, she said.
“We have so much to celebrate now in bringing Michigan and America back,’’ she said.
She also praised the sacrifices made by he workers, retirees, shareholders and everybody who wanted to save GM and save jobs.
“If we want to send a message to the oil company executives, buy a Volt,’’ Stabenow said. “Buy a fuelefficient vehicle so we are not dependent on these high prices.’’
Thomas Kerr special assistant to the White House Council of Recovery for Auto Communities said it was hard to believe that it was only two years ago that GM’s future looked uncertain and good to see it bouncing back with great new products and ingenuity.
Norwood Jewell, director of United Autoworkers Region 1C, called it a great day to be in Flint. He thanked President Obama, Stabenow and other “who fought hard to make sure this day would come.’’
Flint Mayor Dayne Walling drew applause when he issued the challenge to “everyone who wants to see more announcements like this one to go out and buy GM cars.”