By Lauren Godlesky
Lansing Star staff writer
LANSING – Plans to bring General Motors Chevy Camaro production to Lansing’s Grand River plant has stirred anticipation for manufacturing and labor in Lansing
GM announced in late December that it would move production of the car from Canada’s Oshawa plant in Ontario to Lansing. United Auto Workers Local 652 of Lansing, consisting of over 900 members will take part in building the newest Camaro.
Jason Cords, general manager of Shaheen Chevrolet in Lansing said the relationship between labor and management is strong and prosperous in Lansing. GM has historically steered additional production to the Lansing area the past 12 years, according to Crain’s Automotive News data center.
“To have any cars being built in our community is huge, let alone being a Camaro,” Cords said. “First of all, they are the pickiest people in the world and if they have enough confidence in this plant to produce that car, that has to say something for our Lansing workers.”
Camaro production enhances Lansing’s economy because it is such a renowned car, Mike Green, president of UAW Local 652, which will build the vehicle, said recently. He said the local economy is driven and dependent on car sales.
“Every one manufacturing job supports between seven and 10 in the community so it will be huge,” Green said. “That’s the same person that’s stopping at the stores, the gas station, going to the restaurants and everything that’s good for the community as a whole.”
This strong relationship between labor and management is also seen with UAW Local 652 and Sundance Chevrolet, according to local salesman David Carter.
“They send us business and we in turn help their product out by selling what they build,” Carter said. “We have a real close knit relationship with them.”
Cords said the people supervising the plant have a lot of great things happening in Lansing such as administering the manufacturing of the Cadillac ATS, which was named “car of the year” and the Chevy Traverse, one of GM’s best selling SUV’s. Green said part of GM’s plans was to fully use the plants and workers, which is exactly what they have done.
“We’ve been continuously blessed with new product: the ATS, the CTS and then the Camaro,” Green said. ‘We’re hoping for more work here and to add a third shift too.”
Cords said the new Camaro would entail some front end styling changes likely to be revamped in 2014. Prices are expected to range from a base of $26,000 to $56,000.
“Camaro enthusiasts are different than anyone else in the world,” Cords said. “They love their car and we can set it up so they can watch it being built at their own plant. There are a lot of things people love about buying a car that’s built in their hometown.”
As for Green, he has high hopes for production.
“Hope is something they can never take away from you,” Green said.
The date to begin manufacturing has not yet been announced but according to Cords, it is estimated to be between 2014 and 2016.