Here's Detroit's last auto factory
Even though US carmakers are thriving once again, thanks to some federal bailouts, Motown is down to a single plant.
Half a century ago, Detroit was a thriving city, buoyed by automobile factories that employed tens of thousands.
Today, the Motor City is seeking bankruptcy protection, while the automakers have largely abandoned their former home turf. Just one factory remains entirely within its borders: Chrysler's Jefferson North plant, which happens to make what The New York Times calls one of the country's most profitable cars, the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The plant isn't a charity act from Chrysler. The factory generates about $2 billion annual profits for the carmaker, and helps lift the fortunes of its parent company, Fiat, The Times noted. Still, Jefferson North also employs 4,600 workers, one of the few shining lights in the troubled city.
But the factory's health is a reminder of what Detroit has lost: thousands of jobs and lots of taxes. The Jefferson North plant provides about $12 million a year in property taxes to the city. (General Motors (GM) makes the Volt in a plant that straddles Detroit and a neighboring city, turning out about 25,000 cars per year, compared to the 300,000 Jeeps produced annually at Jefferson North.)
Chrysler and General Motors are thriving once again, thanks to their federally backed bailouts after filing for bankruptcy. Ford also dealt with financial struggles, going through a restructuring to cut debt and labor costs, Bloomberg notes.
However, while Detroit has spiraled downward, the U.S. automakers have seen their stock prices surge. Ford (F) shares are up 31% this year through Thursday, while GM's have climbed 28% over the same period.
Detroit's loss of auto factories started in the 1950s, when the Packard plant closed. It's still standing, a crumbling wreck that's often viewed as a symbol of Detroit's problems. (The Detroit Free Press has an eye-opening interactive feature that compares the plant's heyday to today.)
For Chrysler, the decision to stay in Detroit didn't come without concessions from workers. The automaker hired employees at lower wages, taking advantage of an agreement with the United Automobile Workers union to add new employees at $16 an hour, rather than the $28 older workers earn, The Times noted.
That has helped boost the plant's profitability, while it employ thousands in a city with a 16% jobless rate.
The plant's future wasn't certain a few years ago, given Chrysler's bankruptcy. But as Jeffrey Brunson, a union official at Jefferson North told The Times: "It's been amazing how great this has been for the company and the employees and Detroit."
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
I grew up in Hazel Park. My father, uncles, friends, neighbors, and myself following military service, all worked for either the auto makers or supporting industries. I went back a few years ago after a long absence, and was saddened by the shape Detroit was in. Was such a great place to grow up.
have no fear
the progressives will be here
to implement a program or three.
bet they are free
as the ones in the last century
and pay no heed to what einstein said about insanity.
real yes REAL AMERICANS DRIVE FORD AND GM CARS AND TRUCKS NOT IMPORTS
and look at what you drive who owns the company is it Fiat you Dodge folks. and don't say my
TOYOTA was made here the money goes to japan and they will cook the books . put you right
hand over you heart pledge our flag and say goodbye to your job... oh that's to late see you in the bread line.
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