Wyoming plant could benefit from GM investment

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WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — While there has been nothing official from General Motors or the United Auto Workers, employees at GM’s components plant in Wyoming say smart money is on axle work coming to their shop.

“They’re not really saying anything. They can’t say anything,” one worker said during a Wednesday shift change outside the plant on Burlingame Avenue SW near Burton Street.

“From what I hear, it’s pretty much set in stone. They’ve been redoing the whole back of the plant. They’re sinking a lot of money in,” another said.

In June 2015, GM announced a major expansion of the facility that would create approximately 300 new jobs. But until this week, there was no word on what they would build.

Citing sources familiar with the plan, The Detroit News reports axle components for a new full-size GM pickup truck will be produced at the Wyoming plant.

“You’d be hard pressed to ask for a better product to put into a facility. These pickup trucks tend to certainly do well from a demand perspective,” IHS Auto Industry analyst Mike Wall said.

And GM is — here’s a term you don’t hear often — insourcing the axle work, which is currently handled by a supplier with plants in Mexico.

News of the axle works comes as GM announced $1 billion, 7,000-job reinvestment in U.S. manufacturing operations. The move is bound to benefit the many West Michigan auto supply companies.

“Frankly, I think that’s maybe even the bigger story,” Wall said. “It looks like good old West Michigan may benefit both directly and, frankly, on the periphery as it relates to the suppliers in this area.”

Wall said new products will drive production in coming years for the automakers that local companies supply. Between 2018 and 2020, 111 new models are expected to be launched and will help protect jobs.

But automation and lean processes created by the recession may limit that job growth.

“It’s not going to be necessarily the big number that you might see in the past — 1,000 jobs here,” Wall said. “It’s going to be more in the hundreds, hopefully. Maybe even less.”

Wyoming officials also say they haven’t heard anything official from GM. In a statement to 24 Hour News 8, they said the city is grateful to have be home to the GM plant.

“Their continued investment tremendously impacts our community by providing quality, good paying jobs for our residents,” the statement read in part.

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