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GM invests $877M for Flint assembly plant upgrade

People work on a Chevy pickup truck on the assembly line of the General Motors Flint Assembly Plant January 24, 2011 in Flint, Michigan.
People work on a Chevy pickup truck on the assembly line of the General Motors Flint Assembly Plant January 24, 2011 in Flint, Michigan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

FLINT, Mich. – General Motors' oldest assembly plant in North America will undergo a transformation in the coming years.

On Tuesday, GM officials announced plans to invest $877 million to build a new body shop for the Flint Assembly plant, putting it closer to the Flint Metal Center, which supplies sheet metal and other parts used in the Chevrolet and GMC full-size pickups produced in the plant.

The investment will also cover improvements to the general assembly area and the retooling and installation of new equipment at the plant.

"This investment will allow us to use a more innovative approach to deliver material between two critical facilities, reducing handling and the time it takes to ship parts," said Cathy Clegg, GM North America Manufacturing and Labor Relations vice president.

Since 2011, GM has announced investments topping $1.8 billion for Flint Assembly. This includes $600 million for plant upgrades and a new standalone paint shop that is under construction and slated to open in 2016. Work on the 883,000 square foot body shop is expected to begin in the first half of 2016, with completion slated for 2018.

"In the last several years, GM's investments in the city of Flint have topped $2.5 billion, creating hundreds of construction jobs and an economic boost for the community," said Flint Mayor Dayne Walling. "This investment not only strengthens the ties between GM and the city, it demonstrates that Flint continues to play an important role in the resurgence of manufacturing in Michigan and the rest of the United States."

Opened in 1947 as part of a post-World War II building boom by GM, Flint Assembly has produced more than 13 million vehicles. The plant's "View Builds," allow customers to see their Silverados or Sierra trucks being assembled and roll off the line after a series of quality checks by members of UAW Local 598.

"While the plant has received numerous awards for initial quality and long-term durability and reliability, our latest investments in the plant will raise the bar in vehicle quality and customer satisfaction," Clegg said.

When the new paint shop opens in 2016, trucks will be painted using a wet-coat process that results in a smoother, more durable finish. The new body shop will be constructed north of the Flint Metal Center, reducing transportation time and handling between facilities.

"This announcement is due to the hard work and dedication of our UAW members in Flint," said UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, who leads the UAW GM Department. "This proves once again that when we work together in a collaborative approach, UAW members continue to come up with innovative ways to grow the business, which provides jobs and improves the quality of the products we produce. This is both good for the Company and good for our members."

Tuesday's announcement completes the $5.4 billion in investments GM and the UAW announced at the end of April. Since June 2009, GM has announced U.S. facility investments of approximately $17.8 billion, including $12.4 billion since the end of the 2011 UAW-GM National Agreement.

These investments have created approximately 6,250 new jobs and secured 20,700 other positions.