WENTZVILLE — General Motors announced Friday it will invest $1.5 billion in its Wentzville plant to support production of its next generation of midsize pickup trucks.
During a press event, GM President Mark Reuss — who started his GM career at the plant — said the company will retain 4,000 full-time jobs as a result of the move.
The investment includes upgrades and new equipment for the plant’s paint and body shops as well as general assembly areas. Ruess said the company will start bringing in new conveyors, controls and tooling over the holidays.
The announcement comes after tense negotiations with lawmakers, including Missouri Gov. Mike Parson. The Republican said he was willing to walk away several times but that it ultimately turned out to be a good deal for the state.
“We know they’ve shut plants down over the United States, but to invest it here in Missouri? I think it’s because the economic values we have in this state, the workforce development we’re doing in this state right now, are key to these companies coming here and setting up shop,” he said.
Parson said the deal is one of the largest single private-sector investments in the state’s history.
That’s thanks in part to tax incentives, which will total $50 million over 10 years. In order to secure them, GM is required to make an initial investment of $500 million for the first five years. It can receive a maximum of $5 million annually.
The company can only continue receiving incentives as long as it retains 90% of current jobs. The company’s Wentzville plant employs about 4,000 hourly and 330 salaried employees.
Missouri lawmakers expressed concern last month that the plant could face steep job cuts. The terms of a contract recently signed between GM and the United Auto Workers to end a 40-day nationwide strike committed GM to the $1.5 billion investment with retention of just 2,000 jobs.
Even though the plant isn’t expected to cut jobs now, state Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, still opposes the incentives.
“I don’t think General Motors deserves a dime of government benefit that every other company in the state of Missouri doesn’t get,” he said.
“Right now, the difference between all of those small businesses that employ a dozen folks and General Motors is that General Motors is a lot bigger. Well, being a lot bigger and having a lot of special interest influence in Jefferson City is not a good reason why you should get a benefit.”
UAW Local 2250 President Glenn Kage said he doesn’t want to see even 10% of the jobs lost, but he’s not too worried that will happen. Kage said the deal brings greater stability for union employees.
“For the UAW workers, it means long-term job security as an investment into the plant, and according to what they’re saying, it’s going to make things a little bit better for us on some of the jobs that we’ve got,” he said.
Wentzville Mayor Nick Guccione said the announcement means the local economy will keep chugging along as usual, but he also sees signs for growth.
“I know some things I can't really talk about now, but I know there will be more jobs if not added to this plant will be added to other sub-suppliers in the future that want to be close to GM,” he said. “And that grows our community as well.”
GM is the largest employer in Wentzville.
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