Economic Development, Human Resources, and Manufacturing

GM unveils Wyoming plant upgrade

Overhaul of $119M brings axle production for full-size trucks back in-house, creating 300 jobs.

June 15, 2018
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A worker demonstrates new tooling and equipment to support axle production for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra at the General Motors Grand Rapids Operations in Wyoming. Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors

General Motors completed a yearslong $119-million upgrade to its Wyoming components plant, creating hundreds of local jobs in the process.

The Big Three automaker hosted a media tour of its updated GM Components Holdings plant at 2100 Burlingame Ave. SW on June 12.

Joe Frisch, GM’s launch manager for the project, showed off a portion of the 1.8-million-square-foot facility that has been outfitted with new tooling and equipment. The project was first announced in 2015, but the details of the investment were kept close until 18 months ago.

The new equipment will support the production of axles for GM’s full-size truck line, which includes the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

“This is a great opportunity for GM to get back into axle production in-house,” Frisch said.

GM previously had the axle production done in Mexico but announced in January 2017 it would bring 450 of those jobs back to Michigan, 300 of which would be in West Michigan.

The project has created about 300 jobs, bringing the number of workers at the plant to 885, Frisch said. Positions at the site currently include assembly, manufacturing, gears machining, maintenance staff and management roles, spread over three shifts.

Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll said the facility has had a “longstanding” impact in the community since opening in 1943.

“It’s given citizens — for years and years — jobs, and now, as (we) continue to advance from years where we were wondering what was going to be in this facility, if it was even going to be open, to come back to full production and leading in technology right here in our area, hiring more individuals here in our community — it’s just a wonderful relationship we’ve had with General Motors over the years,” he said.

Curtis Holt, Wyoming city manager, said the impact of the investment won’t be measured primarily by an increased tax base since GM didn’t technically build anything outside of the already-existing, already-assessed facility.

He said since Wyoming City Council provided a personal property tax exemption to GM in 2011 and state law now prohibits industrial equipment from being taxed as personal property, the city won’t see additional revenue there, either.

Instead, Holt said the impact on Wyoming will come from all of the new workers spending money in the community.

He said GM’s investment injected life into the entire south end of the plant, which previously had been quiet.

“If you drive around, you’ll see cars all the way around the site now,” he said. “Obviously, the owners of those cars are using our businesses, shopping at our stores — all very important things.

“It’s exactly what we wanted to have happen on this site, and we’ve worked with (GM) very closely to see it happen.”

He said he expects to see an escalation of property values and home bidding wars — which already is happening in Wyoming as Grand Rapids’ growth spills into the suburbs.

“You can hardly buy a home because of the jobs that are out there — people wanting to work in this region,” he said. “I just talked to somebody the other day who had 28 offers on a house in two days, here in Wyoming.

“So, the housing impact in our community, with the jobs that are now available, has been tremendous. It’s driving up that market.”

Chris Newman is chair of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 167, representing the employees at the Wyoming plant. He said he is happy to see GM bolstering the plant, which has a “rich, strong history.”

“I’m pleased with our growth and the investment in our facility’s future — moving the plant toward full capacity,” he said.

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