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MORAINE, OHIO — Shortly after his private plane landed in Ohio on a recent morning, the Chinese billionaire set off down Interstate 75 to inspect the factory on which he has staked his legacy and the future of this gritty patch of the American Rust Belt. The sprawling plant is a local landmark, just off the highway unofficially known as Auto Alley. General Motors built it in the 1920s, and for generations it created the kind of blue-collar jobs that defined America’s middle class. But by the time the last SUV rolled off the assembly line here, the city of Moraine had succumbed to the flood of inexpensive imports and cheap foreign labor that battered industrial towns in Ohio and
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At Ford’s factory in Cologne, Germany, a new kind of robot is sitting by the assembly line helping manufacture the legendary automaker’s cars. But these collaborative robots, or co-bots, aren’t replacing their human counterparts at this Ford Fiesta plant. Instead, they’re working side by side with 4,000 Ford factory workers, and not for them. “The workforce is really helping us define how they can contribute more by using the collaborative robots to do some of the more mundane, simple, heavy-exertion tasks, which in turn allows them to use more of their creativity and their minds to take us to the next level, ” said Bruce Hettle, vice president of manufacturing and labor affairs at Ford. For decades the auto industry
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Enrique Zarate, 19, had spent just a year in college when he landed an apprenticeship at a new BMW facility in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. If he performs well, in a year he’ll win a well-paid position, with benefits, working with robots at the company’s newest plant. Within a decade or so, most of the BMW 3 series cars that Americans buy will probably come from Mexico, built by people like Zarate. “When you start with such little experience, and get such a big salary, it’s unbelievable,” says Zarate, whose father is a taxi driver and whose mother is a housewife. Mexico is in the throes of a manufacturing boom. Exports from Mexican factories have jumped 13% since 2012. The
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Ford, FCA Announce Michigan, Ohio Plant Investments

Ford announces a $1.6 billion investment in its Livonia, MI, transmission plant and Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, OH, while FCA US says it will spend nearly $75 million to retool its Trenton, MI, Engine Complex for production of a new 4-cyl. engine. Ford’s latest investment creates or retains 500 hourly jobs at the Livonia plant to build a new 10-speed transmission to be first introduced in the all-new F-150 Raptor and certain other F-150 pickups. Production at the facility, which already builds a 6-speed transmission used in a variety of models, begins in June. The Ohio Assembly investment will preserve 150 hourly jobs and is earmarked for production of F-Series Super Duty chassis cab units. The plant began
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Ohio’s composites industry is getting some investment in hopes that research will give domestic car makers the technology to build lightweight cars that take alternative, cleaner fuel. The investment comes from a partnership between JobsOhio, the state’s non-profit corporation aimed at wooing outside businesses to bring jobs and money to Ohio, and Tennessee’s Institute of Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), a group working to grow the nation’s composites industry. Composites and carbon fiber are most relevant to Ohio in the automotive sector, but drive several other industries, including aerospace, chemicals and energy. While Ohio leads the United States in the automotive industry, second only to Michigan, domestic automotive manufacturers are behind the rest of the world when it comes to
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CLEVELAND, Ohio – The automotive industry is bucking the trend as one of just two sectors in Northeast Ohio manufacturing expected to outpace U.S. growth in the next decade. Food manufacturing is the other, but it’s only expected to have modest growth, according to Team NEO, a non-profit economic development organization. Automotive employment is expected to grow 19 percent to 28,800 employees by 2024. During that same time period, U.S automotive employment is forecasted to decrease by 3 percent, according to Moody’s Economy.com, an economic forecasting firm. Researchers at Team NEO expect regional gross domestic product in manufacturing in general to expand 43 percent from 2011 to 2024. However, most manufacturing employment is expected to decline due to ongoing production
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Auto, truckmakers investing nearly $1.8B in Ohio

Auto manufacturers have poured nearly $1.8 billion into Ohio plants recently, adding jobs in an industry that employs 21,000 Ohioans and is rebounding from big losses during the Great Recession. Experts attributed the new investments to several factors — increasing demand from consumers, recent union contracts, and streamlined manufacturing and distribution processes that make it more cost-effective to produce vehicles and parts in the state. The rebounding auto industry also benefits companies that produce and supply parts for the automakers, leading to additional jobs and investment. In the past three years alone, recent announcements have included: • Honda plans to spend $70 million next year for a Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville to produce the Acura NSX supercar. Honda has
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Hyundai Mobis said that this year its annual module production quantity increased 14 times over the first year of the relationship. Mobis North America (MNA), located in the Northeastern part of the US, is producing modules in its Ohio and Michigan plants. The Ohio plant generates an annual capacity of 246,000 modules and produces the complete chassis module for Chrysler’s Jeep Wrangler. When it started mass-production in July 2006, the module supply quantity was merely 40,000, but it jumped to 156,000 the following year, and exceeded 220,000 in 2013. Last year, the figure topped 245,000. The cumulative production quantity as of the first half of this year is 1,745,000. The Ohio plant has been rapidly increasing its production volume since
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US industrial production up 0.6 percent in June

U.S. industrial production rose in June by the largest amount in 10 months, led by a strong rebound in auto production. The Federal Reserve says industrial production increased 0.6 percent last month, the best showing since a similar gain last August. In May industrial production had fallen 0.3 percent. The key manufacturing sector posted a 0.4 percent rise, reflecting a jump in the output of motor vehicles and parts, which rose by 5.9 percent after having fallen by 4.3 percent in May. Output at the nation’s utilities rose 2.4 percent as electricity production increased as warmer weather than normal boosted demand for air conditioning. Output in the mining sector edged up a tiny 0.2 percent, the second small increase after
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LANSING – Every Sunday night, Steve Notar Donato bids farewell to his wife and two kids in Hudson, Ohio, and makes a nearly four-hour drive to a hotel in Okemos that he calls home five days a week. Before sunrise each Monday, he reports to work at General Motor’s Lansing Grand River Assembly plant. For the six weeks he’s been on the job, Lansing Grand River’s new general manager said he’s been spending his time on the floor to “get to know the people, the product and the process.” Notar Donato has moved nine times in his 30-year career at GM, and this isn’t his first stint in Lansing. His family is used to him living out of hotel rooms
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