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GM adds 300 jobs to Orion Township plant

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General Motors' headquarters in downtown Detroit. GM's North American president, Mark Reuss says the company "is dedicated to helping rebuild this city."

General Motors is adding 300 new jobs and investing $245 million in one of its metro Detroit plants in Orion Township.

And residents there are breathing a sigh of relief, because just a few years ago, it looked like that plant was going to close.

"The impact they have on the rest of our economy – the restaurants, the stores, the schools – is huge. If that were gone, it's such a huge gap to fill,” says Chris Barnett, the township supervisor.

The real scare for the community was back in 2009, when the township offered GM about $668,000 a year in tax breaks to keep the plant open.

GM also gets tax credits from the state of Michigan.

Since then, there have been signs that GM planned to stick around: earlier this year, the company announced it would start making the Chevy Bolt at Orion. It currently makes the Sonic and the Buick Verano at that plant. 

Barnett says the company also started converting gas from the local landfill into energy for the plant.  

But today’s announcement marks a more permanent kind of investment, with GM unveiling plans to build a new model of car at Orion soon – though it's not saying which one, yet.

“The fact that General Motors is continuing to invest in this plant, shows that they’re here for the long haul,” says Barnett.

“Several years ago when we heard that it was imminent that they were going to shut down, those were people that I know [that were going to lose their jobs.] Some of them are my neighbors, people I play softball with, people you see around town. And it was hopeless. People didn’t know what they were going to do. That was the only place they’d ever worked.”

Now Barnett says they’re getting calls from businesses nearly every day who want to relocate to the area to supply the GM plant, and he says the township had the second-highest population growth in the county last year. 

GM has laid off about 260 workers from the plant since last November, though the company says most of those workers were relocated.

Barnett says Orion Township hasn’t offered GM any additional tax incentives. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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