General Motors plants in Western New York were chosen for a collective $334 million upgrade was the result of an aggressive pitch by state and local officials and an historic strong work ethic made a compelling case for the automaker.
Especially when the same engine line-related work was being chased by at least two other states — Michigan, where the company is based, and Ohio.
“It’s not a mistake that Tonawanda got this work,” said Chuck Herr, UAW Local 774, shop chairman, “There are plants losing shifts.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and GM officials announced Wednesday morning that the automaker’s Powertrain plant on River Road in the Town of Tonawanda along with its Lockport and Rochester plants will see a collective $334 million investment to upgrade engines lines and related cooling and power components operations.
"We are seeing a different reality," Cuomo said. "We are seeing companies coming to Buffalo to invest."
The River Road plant will see GM invest $295.9 million, Lockport will see a $31.8 million upgrade, and Rochester a $5.9 million investment, respectively.
In addition, the Tonawanda plant will see 67 new jobs created and 1,194 retained.
Sources said the Tonawanda engine line upgrades will be related to the next generation of the L850 line, which includes the 2.0 liter turbo engine and 2.5 liter Ecotech engines, both currently in production in the plant.
Among the incentives being offered are up to $7 million in state grants.
“This investment is far reaching,” said Jimmy Lakeman, a UAW Region 9 representative.
The GM deal is the latest in a series of private sector-driven, manufacturing based upgrades to take place in the region in recent months — all of which came about from incentives offered by New York state and an aggressive pitches made by Empire State Development, Invest Buffalo Niagara and other agencies. The list includes Ford Motor Co., Geico and General Mills, among others.
“General Motors is betting on Buffalo,” Cuomo said. “They are making this investment here because they believe in Buffalo’s future.”