Why Lear chose Flint for new plant and 600 jobs

FLINT, Michigan—Lear Corp. is the first automotive supplier to build a manufacturing facility in the city of Flint in more than 30 years. It is bringing 600 jobs to the city with a second wave of hires expected in a matter of weeks or days.
 
And, from the very beginning, Lear execs knew Flint would be home to their massive investment.
 
“There was no question about where we were going to go. We talked about other areas … (but) there really was no option for us other than to go into the city of Flint,” said Jason Scott, Lear's global vice president for the GM seating group.
 
Lear broke ground in October on its $29 million, 156,000-square-foot facility on the former General Motors commonly known as Buick City. Here they will build seats for the Chevy Silverado, assembled at the Flint Truck plant. The plant remains under construction but the exterior of the building is nearly complete and stretches the entire block from North Street to Industrial Avenue along East Hamilton Avenue. 
 
Lear hired its first 48 people in January, and will hire its next wave in the next few weeks. Ultimately the facility will employ about 600 workers—430 of them new hires and others transferred into Flint from Lear’s Rochester Hills plant.
 
“We are making a huge investment in the city of Flint. The city of Flint and Genesee County have been nothing but supportive,” Scott said. “It’s more of a partnership that we are starting to form. … We are going to be part of the solution.”
 
Scott talked about the ongoing investment and Lear’s culture of valuing employees as the keynote speaker for the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce annual meeting attended by about 400 area business and community leaders.
 
Chamber CEO Tim Herman called the Lear plant “a major win for our community,” and noted it is among 4,330 new jobs in Genesee County over the last five years.
 
Lear Corp—which builds seat and electrical components for vehicles—is ranked 151st in the Fortune 500 with 165,000 employees in 257 facilities in 39 countries worldwide. It is larger than other familiar national brands including Marriott, Gap, Visa, Kellogg, and eBay.
 
The company is built on a culture that has gone through a major transformation since 2011, Scott said, and focuses on a core belief that the company’s success is a direct result of its employees’ commitment, leadership, and talent.
 
“What differentiates us is our people and the talent of our people,”  Scott said.
 
So, why was Flint destined for its next big investment?  “Flint has one of the greatest cultures in the state,” Scott said. “There is so much pride.”
 
Need evidence? Well, he just looks at the people coming out of Flint—including Ray Scott, Flint native and Powers Catholic High School alum who was named president, CEO, and director of Lear Corp. effective March 1.
 

Read more articles by Marjory Raymer.

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