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Tonawanda bids for more GM engine work

Tonawanda bids for more GM engine work


Business First of Buffalo – by James Fink

Just weeks after General Motors Co. announced plans to build new engine lines to its Town of Tonawanda Powertrain plant, the auto making giant said the River Road facility is in the running for another new line of motors.

GM officials confirmed the Town of Tonawanda plant is being considered for a new line of eco-friendly V-6 and V-8 engines, that if produced locally could see several hundred more auto workers called back to work at the facility.

“It’s all very exploratory,” said Kim Carpenter, spokesperson from General Motors’ Detroit headquarters. “We haven’t made any decisions. This is all very early in a complex due diligence period.”

Still, local and state economic development agencies have begun crafting what they are calling a handsome incentive package aimed at bringing the new engine lines to Tonawanda.

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency, on April 8, will hold a public hearing as a prelude to approving sales tax breaks and other incentives for the $425 million engine line expansion, which GM said in February will take place at the River Road plant. The ECIDA board of directors are expected to review and vote on the package during their April 12 meeting.

Those 4-cylinder EcoTec engines will be rolling off the assembly line in time for 2013 model year. The plant could be producing as many as 370,000 of the EcoTec engines annually.

The new line means that at least 425 workers will be recalled at the plant, giving more than 1,000 employees.

During the same public hearing and subsequent board meeting, ECIDA directors are expected to review an incentive package that will be used to help entice GM to build the V-6 and V-8 engines in Tonawanda.

Several other GM plants are also vying for the same line.

Carpenter said there is no specific date for when or if GM decides to build the engines.

In the meantime, ECIDA officials remain confident their pitch will be successful.

“At a time when other GM plants are being shut down, the company continues to invest in the Tonawanda plant,” said John Cappellino, ECIDA director of business development. “That has to be considered a good sign and how they view the plant and its work force.”

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