Lear Corp., a leading global supplier of automotive seating and electrical systems, broke ground on a new seat-manufacturing facility located on the former site of the historic Buick City complex in Flint, Michigan.
Ray Scott, executive vice president of Lear Corp. and president of Lear’s seating business, was joined by Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and Tom McMillen, executive director, Interiors & Safety, Global Purchasing & Supply Chain, at General Motors.
Jason Scott, global vice president for Lear’s GM seating group, presented an informational overview including specific plans for the Flint plant, and Gerald Kariem, director of UAW Region 1D, provided additional remarks.
Lear’s Flint seating plant will be the first major automotive supplier manufacturing facility constructed in Flint in more than 30 years. Plans call for the 156,000-square-foot facility to begin production of seats by April 2018. The world-class facility will employ approximately 600 workers when it reaches full production, according to Lear. Thirty percent of the 33-plus-acre site will be green space.
Lear said it chose the Buick City site for a number of reasons, including its proximity to the homes of many of its workers, the location of the GM plant, as well as the corporation’s objective to give back to the communities in which it operates. The Flint area has been hard hit in recent years, and Lear also wants to bring manufacturing back to the area, since many manufacturing jobs in Flint have been lost over the past several decades, the company added.
Flint holds sentimental value for Ray Scott, who grew up in Flint and worked while attending the University of Michigan-Flint delivering parts just-in-time to General Motors.
“I have a lot of pride in Flint; it helped shape who I am today,” he said. “We had options for other locations that we considered, but what was important to us was that this was the right thing to do from a community standpoint. To build a modern, state of the art facility at that location is very symbolic and historic.”
Lear worked with GM and the city of Flint while deciding on the location for the new manufacturing facility. The Michigan Strategic Fund board approved a $4.35-million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to support Lear’s $29.3-million capital investment at the site, which includes the subassembly and final assembly of automotive seats.
“We have a long relationship with Lear during its 100 years of business,” said McMillen. “Lear has earned GM’s coveted Supplier of the Year designation 16 times and our partnership continues as we both commit to this next phase for Flint. Our next-generation vehicles to be produced in Flint are our newest step in almost $3 billion we have invested in Flint since 2009.”