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Old 12-15-2006, 04:31   #1 (permalink)
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US:Ford invests $104M in Mich.

Ford invests $104M in Mich.

Automaker to upgrade Van Dyke transmission plant to help keep 1,300 jobs.

Bryce G. Hoffman and Charlie Ramirez / The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. will invest $104 million in its Van Dyke Transmission Plant as part of a job-protection deal between the company and the state of Michigan.

Sterling Heights Mayor Richard Notte said Thursday that the automaker is asking the city for tax credits to help finance planned equipment upgrades at the factory -- a move that will help safeguard more than 1,300 jobs. The company is expected to bring its request for a 50 percent tax abatement to the city council on Dec. 19.

"Ford has been a good corporate neighbor and it pays its fair share," Notte said. "If we can help out -- because everybody knows they're having trouble -- we will. It's a good tax base in Sterling Heights, and I think it will probably pass. It will mean job security."

Ford spokeswoman Sara Tatchio would not confirm the investment, but said the company is "excited about (its) manufacturing operations right here at home" and would have more to say in the future.

Ford is also expected to receive tax abatements from the state to help pay for the equipment upgrades.

The state's help would be part of a $151 million tax credit deal between Ford and Michigan. When she announced the deal in August, Gov. Jennifer Granholm said it would preserve as many as 56,000 Michigan jobs. Under the terms of that agreement, Ford said it would invest up to $1 billion in the state over the next 20 years, but the company stressed that it was not obligated to do so.

Critics of the plan said the automaker was likely to invest that much in the state as part of its normal operations and called the offer of tax waivers unnecessary.

Ford has invested more than $440 million in the 2 million-square-foot Sterling Heights facility in recent years. The plant, which is located on Van Dyke Road, opened in 1968 and makes axles and transmissions.

"It's a big plus for the city that Ford would invest this kind of money in Sterling Heights," Notte said. "I imagine there will be a ripple effect, and maybe smaller companies in the area will benefit and continue to make the city a vibrant community."
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