In the last few weeks, Ford has made a major commitment to Engine Plant No.1 in Brook Park and the assembly plant in Avon Lake.
The UAW has announced a deal with Ford that will lead to 600 new positions being created at Engine Plant No.1 in Brook Park. Most of those jobs are based on the surprisingly successful EcoBoost engine produced at the facility. Sales are higher then expected on the profitable gas-mileage boosting engine, so Ford will be adding a 3rd shift, or about 350 new workers. Most of those workers, however, will be coming from other Ford plants that will be losing work.
While the Brook Park Engine plant gets a lot of local press, many Clevelanders don’t realize there is a full assembly plant in Avon Lake. The Ford factory had been producing the Econoline van models but that product is being phased out. There was concern Ford would close the plant and the area would lose the 1,800 jobs the factory provides. However under the new labor agreement recently released, Avon Lake will be getting Ford’s commercial truck business. The product is being moved from Mexico to Avon Lake. You don’t hear too many stories about work being brought back from foreign countries so this is great news.
The commercial truck line that will be moved to Avon Lake may not bring any new jobs with it from Ford. However, the trucks that are built there are barebones, and need to be “upfitted” for specific use. Often small companies that upfit products like the commercial truck line tend to move closer to the assembly plant in which they are produced. The hope is this can lead to several new companies relocating to the area.
Cleveland Economy Doing Relatively Well
While neither announcement will lead to a large net increase in jobs for the area, they have maintained thousands of high paying jobs that we need in Cleveland. If Cleveland had lost both of these factories, there would be no end to the number of headlines and lead stories about the economic demise of the area. The reality is Cleveland is doing relatively well in this slow economy. The unemployment rate for the metropolitan area in August of 2011 was 8%. That might seem high, but it was below the state rate of 8.8% and the national rate of 9.1%. And it was much better then cities like Los Angeles at 11.8%, Miami at 11.2% and Detroit at 12.9%.