Another point in favor of Broening Highway

General Motors: New transmission plant in White Marsh affirms the strength of this area's work force.

May 21, 1999

THE FACTORS that persuaded General Motors Corp. to choose this area for a $250 million truck transmission manufacturing facility also recommend continuation of its vehicle-assembly plant on Broening Highway.

For more than a decade, the future of the 64-year-old plant in southeast Baltimore has been of concern. Beyond assurances that it will manufacture Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari minivans there through next year, the company has avoided commitments. Yesterday's announcement of the transmission plant, which will employ nearly 500 of Broening's 3,100 workers, doesn't quell fears. But GM's latest decision suggests the strength of the labor pool was a key consideration. That should also influence its decision whether to renovate the Broening plant.

GM's goal is to manufacture and sell high-quality vehicles at the lowest cost. Baltimore's geographic advantages and superior transportation network, including its port, are well-known. Long ago, Broening was one of GM's high-cost producers of full-sized automobiles. That is no longer the case. When the plant was reconfigured to produce minivans, productivity improved. The cooperation of the United Auto Workers helped make the plant among the most efficient in GM's Truck Group. UAW Local 239 has signaled its members' willingness to explore additional work-rule changes to maintain the assembly line in Baltimore.

The factory, which pumps about $1 billion into the local economy, is essential to the region. Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Maryland's congressional delegation were intimately involved in securing a location for the transmission plant in Baltimore County's White Marsh and offering a generous incentive package. Meanwhile, economic development officials have identified 200 acres adjacent to the Broening plant that could be used to build a new factory or expand the present one. City officials have doubled the size of the enterprise zone for tax breaks.

More than 10 million vehicles have rolled off Broening's assembly line. This community wants to help GM continue building its vehicles here.

Pub Date: 5/21/99

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