Ford to keep 3,750 jobs at plant near Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Ford announced Tuesday it will retain nearly 3,750 jobs and spend about $400 million to upgrade a Missouri plant that had been in danger of closing.

Ziad Ojakli, Ford Motor Co.’s group vice president for government affairs, provided no details about which new product will be produced at the Claycomo plant near Kansas City or when an announcement will be made.

Ford is ending production of the Escape sport utility vehicle later this year at the plant. It will make the new Escape in Louisville, Kentucky. The plant will continue to make the Ford F-150 on a separate line.

Ojakli also declined to say when the company would begin investing money in the Claycomo plant and whether there would be job losses during the transition.

Despite the unanswered questions, cheering workers packed a Ford dealership to listen to the announcement from Ojakli and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. The Claycomo plant was in danger of closing before lawmakers approved a tax break last fall aimed at enticing Ford to continue making vehicles at the plant.

The bill will let manufacturers keep employee withholding taxes they normally would pay Missouri if they improve their factories for new or expanded product lines.

Ojakli said the incentives played a “very important role” in the company’s decision to invest further in the plant. Nixon said the tax breaks were saving jobs and helping suppliers in every corner of the state.

“This is a very special day,” Nixon said. “Doesn’t it feel nice to be at the wheel when the U.S. auto industry turns a corner.”

Ford, GM and Chrysler have all announced plans to retain or hire new workers as the economy and auto sales improve. Ford said last week it plans to add 7,000 workers over the next two years.

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