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Bedford GM Plant to Add 245 Jobs, But Local Hires Uncertain

General Motors announced Tuesday the company will invest more than $110 million in its Bedford Powertrain facility.

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    Photo: Daniel Robison/ WFIU

    Bedford native Lt. Governor Becky Skillman announced the $111 million investment in her hometown.

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General Motors announced Tuesday the company will invest more than $110 million in its Bedford Powertrain facility. While Bedford plant officials welcome an additional 245 jobs, the new hires might not come from southern Indiana.

Two thousand degree liquid metal pours into a vat at Bedford’s Powertrain plant. Within minutes it will cast into parts for GM vehicle engines. While the facility employs about 370 workers now, 245 more are expected to join them within three years. They’ll cast components for a new line of small block engines for GM vehicles. Company officials say the new parts will be lighter, more fuel efficient and able to burn ethanol-based E85 fuel.

Plant Manager Eric Gonzales says the investment diversifies the plant, making it less susceptible to large-scale layoffs.

“We kind of went through to hit the reset button for all of General Motors. It provided us the opportunity to get things absolutely right going forward. This new process is coming in here and it’s really just helping us become profitable,” Gonzales said.

Before downsizing the past few years, the Bedford factory employed as many as 1,200 workers.

But the new positions will likely be filled by laid off GM workers from around the country, including southern Indiana. Jack Woods of the local 440 United Auto Workers Union says even though the new hires could come from other areas of the country, the plant as a whole will become more valuable to the company.

“I think General Motors is the greatest company in the world. We’re going to make a comeback. I think we make the greatest products. Diversifies our plant locally,” Woods said. “We’ve been known as a foundry, die cast aluminum foundry for years. And this gives us another twist.”

Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce President Adele Bowden-Purlee says the new workers, regardless of where they’re from, will help the local economy, bringing more tax dollars to an ailing local government.

“We were very nervous the last couple of years because we saw it dwindling and didn’t know where we were going to do with that. If we are able to do this during the recession then ‘Katy bar the door’ who knows what we’re going to do!” Bowden-Purlee said.

With American auto companies accounting for a sizable chunk of the country’s economy, Skillman says Bedford’s jobs announcement will trickle down through the local and state economy.

“The automobile industry may be a bit unstable today, but fortunately the state of Indiana is still seeing significant investment. Not only here at Bedford, but at the Ft. Wayne plant and in Marion, Indiana as well. I think it brings a lot of words and comfort to citizens here, but it should to all Hoosiers, quite frankly,” Skillman said.

Bedford’s plant expansion is just a piece of $890 million in investments GM announced Tuesday. The company says the spending will create or save 1600 jobs nationwide.

Daniel Robison

Daniel started as WFIU's Assistant News Director in July 2008. He graduated with a B.A. in history in 2007 and earned an M.A. in journalism two years later. Daniel hosts Ask the Mayor weekly and the occasional Noon Edition. He also hosts Morning Edition on Thursdays, sleepily. Daniel's beats include everything News Director Stan Jastrzebski wants him to cover. And it feels strange to type biography of myself in the third person like this. So that's that.

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