Week of September 9, 2002
Blockbuster Deal of the Week
from Site Selection's exclusive New Plant database
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Onetime Dead Plant Walkin', GM's Baltimore Facility Gets Two-Year ReprieveBy JACK LYNE,
Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing BALTIMORE It's not a new deal by any means. But it's a very, very big deal nonetheless for Maryland: General Motors (www.gm.com) has granted a reprieve to its 1,500-employee plant in Baltimore (www.baltimoredevelopment.com), a fixture in the area's corporate community since all the way back in 1935.
Up until GM's announcement, the operation on Broening Highway was looking like a dead plant walkin': The automaker had already scheduled the facility for a shutdown in 2003. Now, though, GM has decided to extend the plant's production of the Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari vans through the summer of 2005.
And the automaker's verdict saves considerably more than the plant's 1,500 existing jobs. As with most major automotive operations, the facility's economic tentacles reach well beyond its bricks-and-mortar boundaries. Fifteen suppliers - including Johnson Controls, Monarch Manufacturing, Old Line Plastics and Tower Automotive - have established facilities in the area that produce components for the Astros and Safaris that are made at the Broening Highway operation. Collectively, the GM plant's supplier community provides 3,000 area jobs.
That spin-off effect is part of the Broening Highway plant's US$1 billion annual economic impact on the Baltimore region, according to local officials' estimates.
Governor Promises "to Preserve GM's Long-Term Presence'GM's reprieve comes after months of intensive state and local lobbying to keep the plant online. How long the facility stays online after 2005, however, remains to be seen.
GM's announcement of its plans to keep the plant open through 2005 included no mention of additional investments planned for the aging Broening Highway operation. Likewise, state and local officials didn't announce any incentives related to GM's decision.
State officials' comments, however, suggested that an aid package of some sort may be in the offing to further extend the plant's lengthy history.
"We appreciate GM's continued commitment to Maryland," said Gov. Parris Glendening (D). "We will continue to work aggressively with the Maryland [legislative] delegation to preserve the long-term presence of GM in Baltimore."
Baltimore County Executive C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D) praised U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) for her aggressive efforts in keeping the GM plant online. "Sen. Mikulski has been working for years with GM, trying to get them to see that it makes sense financially to keep this plant going," Ruppersberger said.
"It is the workers at this plant who have made this extension possible," said Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D). "General Motors' Broening Highway plant has been nationally recognized for its excellent record of quality productivity."
The Baltimore operation is ranked as the third most efficient minivan plant in the United States, according to the highly regarded Harbour Report. The Broening Highway plant retained its No. 3 minivan rank in 2002 by further reducing its total per-vehicle production time by six-tenths of 1 percent.
The Baltimore plant was also cited for a 16-percent quality improvement in a recent J.D. Powers and Associates survey.
Keeping the productive Baltimore plant online solidifies the state's auto sector, asserted Maryland Secretary of Business and Economic Development David Iannucci.
"GM's decision, combined with that of Volvo to build a new generation of engine at the Mack Truck facility in Hagerstown, means the future of the automotive industry in Maryland remains solid," Iannucci said. "We have devoted a great deal of time and attention to this GM operation over many years [as] part of the Maryland Dept. of Business and Economic Development's (www.choosemaryland.org) retention strategy."
©2002 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.