After Donald Trump barbs, General Motors announces $1.8 billion investment, new jobs

Kenny Grant
March 24, 2019

"So we're taking the steps and being responsible to make sure that we can continue to grow in these areas, and continue to have a strong USA manufacturing base that creates a lot of good paying jobs". Trump called GM CEO Mary Barra on March 17 to urge her to reverse the decision to end production at the OH plant.

The new electric vehicle had been slated for production outside of the U.S. The automaker said the decision to bring it to Orion was based on many factors, including the fact that the Orion plant now builds the Bolt EV, and the new Chevrolet EV will be based off an advanced version of the same vehicle architecture.

The company also announced plans Friday to spend about another $1.4 billion at USA factories with 300 more jobs but did not release a time frame or details.

Additional product information and timing for the new Chevrolet EV will be released closer to production. The company has been eager to try to smooth over relations with the White House after Trump first began harshly attacking GM a year ago.

GM spokesman Dan Flores said in a statement that the company received inquiries from interested parties related to Lordstown and the Cruze, and that the company would consider what it considers viable business proposals.

GM has said it can place about 2,700 of the laid-off US workers at other factories, but it's unclear how many will uproot and take those positions.

In addition to the job growth at the Orion plant, GM has job opportunities at several other USA manufacturing plants for virtually all US hourly employees impacted by the recent announcement of unallocated plants.

The production of GM's new electric vehicle had been scheduled to be outsourced outside of the United States.

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The announcement did not address specifics on the new electric vehicle, but GM shared it will be based on an "advanced version" of the current Chevrolet Bolt EV platform. To date, 1,100 employees have been placed at other GM plants, with several hundred more in the process of being placed in new jobs. GM has invested more than $22 billion in its USA manufacturing operations since 2009.

Barra, speaking to reporters after an event at the plant in Orion Township, outside Detroit, with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) announcing the investment, said GM is focused on ensuring that all of the hourly workers at Lordstown find new jobs at other plants but she has shown no indication it will reverse course and reopen the Lordstown plant.

The United Auto Workers won't be pacified easily.

The company made headlines recently by shuttering its Lordstown, Ohio plant.

GM has said it can place about 2,700 of the laid-off USA workers at other factories, but it's unclear how many will uproot and take those positions.

Barra was joined at the event by community and union leaders, including UAW Vice President Terry Dittes.

"We want to create jobs, good paying jobs", she said.

Among other changes, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, requires that manufacturers produce a share of their vehicles in higher-wage factories in order to gain duty-free access to the region - a requirement aimed at favoring U.S. and Canadian facilities over those in Mexico.

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