SOUTHFIELD — The Southfield-based automotive seating and electrical systems manufacturer Lear Corp. (NYSE: LEA) has broken ground on a new seat manufacturing plant located on the former site of the historic Buick City complex in Flint.
Lear’s Flint seating plant will be the first major automotive supplier plant built in Flint in more than 30 years. Plans call for the 156,000-square-foot plant to begin production by April 2018, and it will employ about 600 workers when it reaches full production. Thirty percent of the 33-plus acre site will be green space.
Lear officials said they chose the Buick City site for a number of reasons, including its proximity to the homes of many of its workers, the location of the GM plant, as well as the corporation’s objective to give back to the communities in which it operates. The Flint area has been hard hit in recent years, and Lear also wants to bring manufacturing back to the area since many manufacturing jobs in Flint have been lost over the past several decades.
Flint holds sentimental value for Ray Scott, who grew up in Flint and worked while attending the University of Michigan-Flint delivering parts to General Motors.
Ray Scott, Lear Corp. executive vice president and president of Lear’s seating business, was joined by Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and Tom McMillen, executive director, Interiors & Safety, Global Purchasing & Supply Chain at General Motors, at the event.
Jason Scott, global vice president for Lear’s GM seating group, presented an informational overview including specific plans for the Flint plant, and Gerald Kariem, Director of UAW Region 1D, provided additional remarks.
“I have a lot of pride in Flint; it helped shape who I am today,” Ray Scott said. “We had options for other locations that we considered, but what was important to us was that this was the right thing to do from a community standpoint. To build a modern, state of the art facility at that location is very symbolic and historic.”
Lear worked with GM and the city of Flint while deciding on the location for the new manufacturing plant. The Michigan Strategic Fund board approved a $4.35-million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to support Lear’s $29.3-million capital investment at the site, which includes the subassembly and final assembly of automotive seats.
“We have a long relationship with Lear during its 100 years of business,” McMillen said. “Lear has earned GM’s coveted Supplier of the Year designation 16 times and our partnership continues as we both commit to this next phase for Flint. Our next-generation vehicles to be produced in Flint are our newest step in almost $3 billion we have invested in Flint since 2009.”
Added Weaver: “This project will provide opportunities for Flint residents and an overall positive impact on our local economy. Both Lear and the City of Flint are looking positively to the future.”
Lear, celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2017, employs 156,000 people at plants, laboratories and offices in 38 countries, and currently ranks No. 151 on the Fortune 500. More at www.lear.com.