Tuesday marked a historical day for Arlington. General Motors announced a $1.4 billion expansion of its Arlington Assembly Plant, the single largest investment ever made in the city.
It even trumps AT&T Stadium, which cost $1.2 billion to build, $300 million of that total paid for by the city of Arlington.
When GM declared bankruptcy and asked for a taxpayer bailout six years ago, many questioned whether the automaker would ever recover. Company officials hope the announcement puts some of those doubts to rest.
“When you do address some challenging issues and you work on those together, you develop creative solutions,” said Cathy Clegg, vice president of North American manufacturing and labor relations for GM. “Five years later, it’s this kind of thing.”
The expansion will include new paint and body shops, new machinery and tools for the plant’s assembly line and more training for employees.
“That improves the capabilities of this entire facility,” said Clegg. “It improves the facility itself, the equipment and the people so that we’re able to deliver great SUVs to our customers.”
The Arlington expansion is part of a larger plan by GM to invest $5.4 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations over the next three years, creating an estimated 650 new jobs in the process. It’s not yet clear how many of those new jobs could come to Arlington.
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“We are extremely excited about General Motors doing this,” said Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams.
To help seal the deal, the Arlington City Council designated the plant as a reinvestment zone earlier this year. That will provide GM an 80-percent break on its real and business personal property taxes for the next 10 years. The city will also waive all building permit and development fees related to the expansion.
Williams said the announcement is a very good sign for the city.
“Historically, when Arlington has been growing, many times the catalyst has been General Motors,” said Williams. “So I believe this just signals the beginning of great movement.”
Construction on the expansion is expected to begin later this year and will take three years to complete. GM says production of the full size SUVs it makes at the Arlington Assembly Plant — Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade — will not be interrupted during that time.