by Nick Sohr, Managing Editor, MDbizMedia
U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis toured the GM Baltimore Transmission Plant in White Marsh on Wednesday as part of President Obama’s effort to spur investment and expansion in the country’s manufacturing sector.
“That’s what we want,” she said on the factory floor. “We want to see products that are developed and produced and made here in America so we can sell those to other countries and consumers here.”
Solis, accompanied by Gov. Martin O’Malley and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, saw a factory in transition.
The plant, which opened in 2000, kicked off an expansion last year. When it is completed in 2013, the White Marsh operation will produce electric motors for the next generation of hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles.
GM employs about 200 in White Marsh now and will double its payroll when the expanded facility opens next year.
“GM is now the No. 1 auto maker because they’re building cleaner, greener automobiles and a lot of that is happening right here in Baltimore County,” said O’Malley.
The automaker is investing more than $125 million in the plant expansion and also received a $105 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for the project. Maryland contributed $4.5 million and the county, $6.15 million.
As Solis toured the GM plant, the president visited a Master Lock manufacturing plant in Wisconsin. Obama has made growing the country’s manufacturing base a key component of his economic agenda and has proposed incentives to spur growth in the sector.
“That’s where the American jobs are, the good middle class jobs that can provide support for a family,” said Solis.
“We’ve seen a lot of factories closing down in this industry,” she said. “Now they’re popping up. To see it happening here, in Baltimore, Maryland, it’s a wonderful sight.”
The factory makes a range of products for GM vehicles, including hybrid transmissions for Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks.
“The product that’s being manufactured here is what’s really so special,” Kamenetz said. “We’re talking about electric motors, hybrid transmissions. These have the potential to really grow in popularity and the fact that we’re on the cutting edge of that technology here is very promising for the future of this plant.”