This is what Flint workers will build in new Lear plant

FLINT, Michigan—Flint workers will join a legion of more than 150,000 worldwide building automotive seats and electrical systems for Lear Corporation. Lear announced in August that it would construct a $29 million, 160,000-square-foot plant in Buick City—and create 600 local jobs.

So what exactly will Flint workers be doing?

Lear specializes in building car seats and electrical distribution systems and can be found in more than 400 different nameplates. At the new Flint plant, workers will make seats for use specifically at General Motors Flint Assembly plant—home of the award-winning production of heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks as well as light-duty Silverados. 

Construction officially began with a groundbreaking ceremony Monday and is expected to be completed in 2018. Lear chose to build in Flint over a competing location in Mexico. The city offered property tax abatement and the state of Michigan awarded a performance-based grant worth up to $4.35 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. 

Lear’s announcement follows the investment of more than $2.8 billion by GM since 2009. And, it is a continuation of a relationship that goes back a century. 

Lear Corporation was originally founded as American Metal Products in Detroit and now is based in Southfield with employees in 38 countries. And from the very beginning Lear has been a supplier for GM, winning its Supplier of the Year Award 16 times. 

There were “a lot of considerations” that went into coming to Flint—said Mel Stephens, Lear’s senior vice president of communications—but the bottom line is that Lear wanted to be a part of Flint’s comeback.

“(Flint) has a plan for redevelopment and we wanted to be a part of the revitalization,” he said.

Stephens said the Flint plant will be a “world class” class facility that will focus on creating a safe workplace for employees and a visually appealing building for the neighborhood. It will be located in the spot that once was home to Buick City’s administration building. 

In its second quarter earnings announced in July, Lear reported record sales of $5.1 billion, up 8 percent from a year prior, and a net income of $312 million—a 10 percent increase over last year. Total 2017 sales are expected to be $20 million, according to the company. Lear is set to announce its third quarter earnings Oct. 25.  

Stephens said the company expects to continue to grow faster than the industry overall—thanks in part to Flint. 
And, Stephens said, this is just the start of Lear’s investment in Flint. 

“Everywhere we do business, we support the community,” says Stephens. “(We support) a lot of local charities and community initiatives.

It’s still too early to apply for jobs, but Stephens said job listings will be posted locally and on the manufacturer’s website:
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Read more articles by Makenzie Schroeder.