Ford shifts commitment to Michigan into higher gear

Stacey Bowerman

Friday, April 29, 2016

Billion-dollar investment creates new transmission line, 500 jobs at Livonia transmission plant

Ford Motor Company is moving into a higher gear.

The Dearborn-based automotive company will make a $1.4 billion capital investment and create 500 new jobs in its Livonia Transmission Plant, refitting the expansive factory along Plymouth Road in the Detroit suburb to manufacture a new 10-speed rear-wheel drive transmission.

On Tuesday, April 26, the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) approved an exemption from the State Essential Services Assessment for the automaker valued at $27.3 million over 15 years. The exclusion serves as an incentive for projects that result in significant investment in eligible manufacturing personal property.

“Ford is making a significant investment in new technology in Michigan with a substantial number of new jobs,” said Steve Arwood, CEO of Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which administers on behalf of MSF the business attraction program and serves as the state’s primary marketing agency.

“Throughout the state and in a range of communities, Ford is making good on its long-term commitment to Michigan, and preparing for the manufacturing changes in a rapidly changing industry.”

Currently at the Livonia transmission plant, Ford workers manufacture six-speed transmissions for a range of Ford products. When refitted and updated, the plant will produce 10-speed rear-wheel drive transmissions that will first go into the F-150 Raptor and certain F-150 models.

The Raptor debuted in 2010, and is considered among the first high-performance off-road pickups. Ford’s F-series has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for 34 years.

Michigan leads the nation with more than 140,000 new automotive manufacturing jobs since 2009, according to the Center for Automotive Research.

"We appreciate the state’s efforts to maintain Michigan’s global leadership in the automotive industry,” said Curt Magleby, vice president of government relations at Ford Motor Company. “Our investment in Livonia continues to support good jobs for now and the future in Michigan.”

In granting the State Essential Services Assessment Exemption, the MSF board considered a range of factors, including out-of-state competition, net positive return to the state, level of private investment, business diversification, reuse of existing facilities, near-term job creation and strong link to Michigan suppliers.

Ford also evaluated existing facilities outside of Michigan for this project.

“For more than 60 years, Ford and the Livonia transmission plant have been a dynamic force in Livonia’s economy, especially along Plymouth Road,” said mayor Dennis Wright. “As Livonia’s largest employer, Ford has always been a strong partner with the city and we are excited that the Livonia plant was able secure this investment and 500 new jobs. As the plant grows, our local economy will continue to thrive.”

The Livonia transmission plant opened in 1952, and is a main reason Ford is the top employer in Livonia with nearly 2,800 employees.

In early, Ford announced a thorough 10-year renovation to its design and product facilities, including modernizing and transforming its Dearborn headquarters, where it plans to relocate as many as 30,000 employees in updated offices complexes.

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