Rashida Tlaib urges Fiat Chrysler to make sure Detroit thrives with new plant

Posted at 1:25 PM, Feb 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 13:25:11-05

Just after the announcement of a new $1.5 billion Fiat Chrysler assembly plant to be built in Detroit that will create thousands of new jobs, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D) praised the company, but sent a stark warning: don't forget about the community.

"My only hope is that we not just focus on jobs, but also opportunities for the nearby neighborhoods to thrive with this expansion," she said.

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“Fiat Chrysler is making the right move in bringing more jobs to the city of Detroit and the Metro Detroit region. You won't find a better host community. My only hope is that we not just focus on jobs, but also opportunities for the nearby neighborhoods to thrive with this expansion. I urge Fiat Chrysler to consider a real community benefits agreement that addresses the need for programs for youth, increases home ownership, reduces carbon emissions, among other needed initiatives. This will ensure a true win-win development for all those impacted. This is a tremendous opportunity for Fiat Chrysler to do development differently than those in the past by being inclusive and rooting this project in uplifting the needs of as many neighbors as possible.”

Fiat Chrysler on Tuesday announced a $4.5 billion investment plan it said would increase its workforce in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs by about 6,500 jobs to build all-new or next-generation SUVs.

Under the plan, the company said it would reopen a shuttered engine plant in the city and convert another in the same complex into a future assembly plant for the Jeep Grand Cherokee and a new, three-row, full-size Jeep SUV and plug-in hybrid models for all.

The Motor City was once home to about a dozen massive auto production plants, but a rash of closures helped to push Detroit's unemployment rate to a peak of around 25 percent in 1990. Unemployment was down to about 8 percent last fall.

The new Chrysler plant would be the first to be built in the city since 1991 and is expected to add 3,850 jobs. The company said in a news release that it would add another 1,100 new jobs at its Jefferson North Assembly plant, and roughly 1,500 new jobs at facilities in the neighboring suburb of Warren.

Officials say the SUVs remain in demand, with strong sales and growth potential both domestically and in some overseas markets, such as the Middle East. The company's chief financial officer told investors in June that trucks and SUVs would account for 80 percent of revenue by 2022.

Fiat Chrysler said the additional investments are subject to tax incentive packages it's working out with the city and state of Michigan. The automaker would need to acquire property for the project.

If those deals are approved, construction is expected to start later this year and the first new vehicles could be in production by the end of 2020.

The automaker's injection of money and jobs into the Motor City contrasts sharply with news from rival General Motors Co., which announced plans to shutter its Detroit-Hamtramck plant next year and plans to close four others in the U.S. and Canada.