Officials gathered on Monday to celebrate the latest automotive facility to open its doors in Detroit. The building belongs to global auto supplier Flex-N-Gate, who will manufacture parts for Ford Motor Company vehicles.
So far, 230 employees have been hired at the plant. About half of those workers live in Detroit proper.
It’s part of Flex-N-Gate’s plan to prioritize the hiring of city residents at the new facility — about 500 jobs in total. Focus Hope, a local non-profit that gives educational training opportunities, is assisting in the process.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was on hand for the ribbon cutting. He got the chance to tour the facility and talk to workers at the new plant.
“They talked about how they came from this neighborhood,” says Snyder. “In addition though they talked about how they were proud to work here. And that’s the key to long term success — is having the highest quality products done the most efficient way. And I can feel that passion and that excitement here.”
Mayor Mike Duggan calls Flex-N-Gate a “community benefit partner.” He says the premium on hiring Detroiters is the result of numerous meetings between the company and those living in the surrounding neighborhood.
“If you would’ve seen the first couple of meetings,” says Duggan, “it was a hand full of neighbors with little cups of water sitting around the table talking about their aspirations for jobs…And the Flex-N-Gate folks from beginning to end treated the neighbors with full respect as full partners.”
According to Duggan, the Flex-N-Gate facility is the largest auto plant investment the city of Detroit has seen in more than 20 years.
City Councilman Scott Benson represents Detroit’s 3rd District — where the Flex-N-Gate building is located. He facilitated talks between the auto supplier and community residents.
According to Benson, discussions led to more than job creation. He says there was concern about the amount of truck traffic that the new plant would create in residential areas.
“The city worked with the federal government,” he says, “and they were able to get a grant that widened one of our streets to send the truck traffic away from our neighborhoods, right to the freeway. And that’s what the residents wanted, we were able to get that, and that’s why the process really matters.”
While Flex-N-Gate is still in process of hiring its workforce, manufacturing at the plant has begun. Its first assignment is to make components for the new Ford Ranger pick-up truck.