Ford Motor Co. announced Tuesday it will move production of its F-650 and F-750 medium-duty commercial trucks to the Ohio Assembly Plant from Escobedo, Mexico in 2014, investing $128 million in the facility and retaining 1,400 jobs.
“That’s a lot of good news for this plant, and much better news than many thought would be possible for this facility,” said Jim Tetreault, Ford’s vice president of North American manufacturing. “How many companies are in-sourcing work from Mexico?”
The announcement came a day after the administration of Gov. John Kasich, who was also at the conference, approved a 15-year, 50-percent job-retention tax credit for Ford, beginning on Jan. 1, 2014.
“I can tell you we helped,” Kasich said. “What could be a greater thing to hear than the fact that Ford has made such a commitment to bringing these jobs back on shore?”
The deal won’t actually create any jobs at the plant, but it will prevent it from shutting down in 2014 when the company phases out its E-Series commercial van line currently manufactured at Ohio Assembly Plant.
State Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, said a shut-down at the plant, which accounts for nearly 25 percent of Avon Lake’s income tax revenue, would hurt the entire region.
“If this plant would have went away, the jobs that would’ve been lost, the families that would’ve had to move, it would have just decimated the area,” Manning said. “Not just the people who worked at Ford, but the entire area, the businesses they shopped at.”
Mayor Karl (KC) Zuber said the deal includes an agreement by Ford to keep the plant in operation for 18 years.
“This secures our tax base for the future,” Zuber said. “Ford’s committed to 18 years here, and it’s great news for our community.”
Tetreault said the decision to bring the medium-duty truck line, along with motor home chassis and commercial strip chassis production lines, to Ohio Assembly Plant is part of the four-year contract Ford negotiated with the UAW this fall.
The company promised to invest $16 billion in U.S. manufacturing, and create 12,000 new jobs at plants across the country.
“This would not have been possible if we had not gone through the negotiations (with UAW) and come out the other side with a very strong, ratified, win-win agreement,” Tetreault said.
It also didn’t hurt to have the support of city hall and the statehouse.
“We’ve gotten more co-operation with the state and local governments than we’ve ever received,” Tetreault said.
Zuber said he, Sheffield Mayor John Hunter and Sheffield Lake Mayor John Piskura had been working on securing Ford for four years now.
“This announcement is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people,” Zuber said.
Ohio Assembly Plant Manager Alex Maciag said the plant is one of the highest-performing facilities producing commercial vehicles, and the decision to bring the commercial trucks from south of the border was an easy one for the company.
“We not only have the talent and experience, but we’ve also proven that we can build with highest quality,” she said. “It was a natural choice.”