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Nixon lauds Ford's agreement to preserve jobs at Claycomo plant

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 10, 2010 - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon sought Thursday night to dispel concern, by labor allies and GOP critics, that Ford's Claycomo plant outside Kansas City might be threatened by the automaker's announcement that it is transferring production of its Ford Escape to Louisville, Ky. and adding 1,800 jobs to that facility.

Nixon issued a statement lauding Ford's dual declaration that it is expanding other vehicle production at Claycomo, which means Ford is taking Missouri up on its tax break offer by producing other vehicles at Claycomo.

(Click here to read the Kansas City Star's account of Ford's plans for Claycomo.)

Nixon had called the Missouri Legislature into special session earlier this year to approve the tax-break plan for Ford, after a similar proposal failed during the regular session.

Said Nixon:  "We have been working closely with senior Ford officials for months to make sure the vehicles of the future are manufactured at the Claycomo plant, and it's clear that our hard work will pay real dividends for Kansas City and suppliers in communities across Missouri.

"We look forward to putting the finishing touches on this agreement in the coming weeks. Automotive manufacturing has a bright future in the Show-Me State."

The governor shared his optimism came after the Missouri Republican Party had asserted that Ford's decision regarding the Escape was "just the latest in a long line of setbacks for Missouri" and the fault of "Jay Nixon's inept handing of economic development programs in the state."

In recent weeks, the state GOP has been increasing its attacks against the governor, a Democrat expected to seek re-election in 2012. In Thursday night's statement, the party asserted that "over the past two years, Nixon's Department of Economic Development has been marred by petty personal grievances that have distracted from its mission to foster a competitive business environment and allow jobs to flourish."

"Jay Nixon has failed to make job creation a priority -- and his dismal record speaks for itself," said Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party. The statement included a list of companies who had opted against moving to, or staying in, Missouri.

Ironically, Nixon has spent much of this week -- as he has for months -- holding events around the state announcing various public or private job-creation successes.

A positive announcement about Claycomo could silence his critics -- and union allies, who have gone public Thursday with their concerns about the future of the auto plant's jobs, before Ford sought to put those fears to rest.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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