Ford to insource work from Mexico and China to Rawsonville Plant, retain 750 jobs
About 750 Ford Rawsonville Plant employees will retain their jobs as production previously handled by Mexican and Chinese auto suppliers is insourced to Ypsilanti Township.
Next year, the plant at 10300 Textile Road will begin producing parts for Ford’s hybrid and electric cars, which will be fully made at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.
The insourcing and Ford’s $20 million investment in the plant was made possible in part through a $635,000 brownfield tax credit.
The Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Board stamped the proposal on Monday and the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved it on Tuesday. The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners also approved the proposal at its meeting on Wednesday evening.
The Brownfield Redevelopment Act is in place to provide economic incentives for redevelopment of contaminated, functionally obsolete and blighted property.
Jeff Donofrio, a local government relations employee for the Dearborn-based automaker, said the brownfield credits are part of a package of incentives allowing Ford to bring in new investment and insource battery pack assembly for hybrid electric and plug-in electric vehicles.
"The investment we've announced recently is about $53 million," he said. "This is something that is possible because of our partnership with the UAW, the competitive agreement we were able to reach with them, and I want to make sure we recognize their contribution to this."
Donofrio said the Rawsonville plant will be a key part of Ford's electrification strategy in Southeast Michigan. He said Ford has made a commitment to making Southeast Michigan a hub for the electrification of its vehicles.
County commissioners said Wednesday night they're excited about the project, calling it great news for job creation and for the environment.
"That's an awesome project. I'm really excited about that," said Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor. "We're insourcing jobs. We're bringing jobs in from Mexico and from China to do work here. Not only is it just doing work, it's doing work in the field of high-tech electrical vehicles — building components for electrical vehicles."
Starters and coils are currently produced at Rawsonville, but part of the facility is underutilized. The plant was slated to close at one point, but will produce the 6R140 transmission oil pumps now made in China, battery packs now made in Mexico and transmission kitting for preproduction.
The components will be used in the hybrid C-Max and the C-Max Energi, which is a plug in hybrid.
Marcey Evans, Ford communication manager, said the automaker has insourced about 2,200 jobs over the last several years, and insourcing work previously performed by suppliers outside the company and sometimes outside of the country has become a trend.
“We are committing to insourcing where we can because it’s good for the company, customers, employees and it allows us to grow our employee base here,” Evans said.
She said plants are selected for insourcing for a variety of reasons including proximity to other plants, nature of the work performed in the plant, capacity and transportation infrastructure. The Rawsonville plant was at an advantage because Michigan Assembly was recently retooled to produce Ford’s hybrid lines.
“Rawsonville was a prime location for this particular work,” she said.
Ypsilanti Township board members fully supported approving the tax credit.
“We want to partner with Ford because this is to vital to the growth of Ypsilanti Township,” said Township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo.
AnnArbor.com government and politics reporter Ryan J. Stanton contributed to this report. Tom Perkins is a freelance journalist for AnnArbor.com.