General Motors says it will add a third shift and about 750 new jobs at its Wentzville Assembly plant in early 2015.
The new shift will help build two new midsize pickup truck models, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. It will also produce the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans, which GM describes as solid sellers.
"It's our belief that this is a long-term add for the plant and a very bright future for all the people working here," said plant manager Nancy Laubenthal.
Thousands of early orders
Laubenthal said the expansion is based on nearly 30,000 early orders from dealers for the Chevrolet Colorado, which GM says is a very large number.
According to GM, the new models feature collision alert and lane departure warning, high payload and trailer capacities, and 4G LTE connectivity that makes the trucks Wi-Fi hotspot capable.
Laubenthal said the new jobs will have a multiplier effect on the local economy.
"All of our suppliers will be needing to gear up to produce more parts for these terrific vehicles. The local restaurants and hotels shopping centers, etc. will also benefit from having these additional people here for sure," she said.
In recent years, GM has ramped up its truck program, investing millions of dollars at the Wentzville plant, adding a third stamping press and hiring hundreds more employees. The Wentzville plant currently employs about 2,600 workers.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called the addition of the third shift and the new jobs "another victory for Missouri workers and our economy."
“Four years ago we came together to pass historic, bipartisan legislation aimed at revitalizing the automotive industry in Missouri. Thanks to these efforts and our outstanding skilled workforce, the Show-Me State is now at the forefront of America’s automotive comeback," Nixon said in a press release.
GM's announcement comes at the same time as U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill held a hearing to evaluate the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's handling of the GM recall for defective ignition switches.
“The GM recall has shown us we still have serious deficiencies in how both automakers and auto safety regulators accomplish the task of ensuring the vehicles on the road are as safe as they can be," McCaskill said at the meeting, according to a press release.
McCaskil and Senator Dean Heller of Nevada called for the White House to hire a permanent chief for the agency. Heller claims it would be difficult for an interim chief to make the changes necessary for improvement.
The recall is something the Wentzville plant is taking into consideration, Laubenthal said.
"Everyone at General Motors takes very seriously the lessons that have been learned from the recall we are going through now. It is certainly having an impact on all of us," she said.