Flint, Mich., was as badly hurt by the downturn in the auto industry as any other city. Unemployment has remained high, along with poverty and crime. Its population reached 196,000 in 1960, based on Census data, and stayed at that level in 1970. By 2014, it had fallen to just below 100,000. The city twice has been run by a state-appointed emergency manager because its financial situation became so dire.
General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) is investing in a new plant in Flint, but it will not add any jobs, at least based on the company’s announcement. While the upgrade may be good for GM as its modernizes its lineup, the decision does little or nothing for Flint.
In the announcement about a new facility in Flint, GM management said:
General Motors’ oldest assembly plant in North America, a popular destination for pickup truck customers who want to watch their vehicles being built, will undergo transformation in the coming years.
GM officials today announced plans to invest $877 million to build a new body shop for the assembly plant, locating it closer to the Flint Metal Center, which supplies sheet metal and other parts used in the Chevrolet and GMC full-size pickups produced in the assembly plant.
The investment will also cover improvements to the general assembly area inside Flint Assembly, as well as retooling and the installation of new equipment at the plant.
Since 2011, GM has announced investments topping $1.8 billion for Flint Assembly. This includes $600 million for plant upgrades and a new standalone paint shop that is under construction and slated to open in 2016. Work on the 883,000-square-foot body shop is expected to begin in the first half of 2016, with completion slated for 2018.
GM management also said that its initiatives across the United States have been helped by UAW cooperation and “have created approximately 6,250 new jobs and secured 20,700 other positions.”
But not in Flint.