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Gov. Parson, legislative leaders discuss Wentzville GM plant expansion

Gov. Parson, legislative leaders discuss Wentzville GM plant expansion

May 2nd, 2019 by Bob Watson and Joe Gamm in Missouri News

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivers his State of the State address Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Jefferson City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Gov. Mike Parson met Thursday morning with a number of legislative leaders about Missouri's efforts to get General Motors to expand its plant at Wentzville.

"We just wrapped up a very productive briefing with representatives from General Motors, and House and Senate leaders — along with Director (Rob) Dixon of Economic Development," Parson told reporters Thursday morning. "I am excited that Missouri has a seat at the table to compete for a tremendous opportunity that will provide a boost to our state and our regional economy.

"When a business, large or small, chooses to look to make investments in our state, this is good for all of us."

And, Dixon said, a GM decision to expand its Wentzville plant is good for the entire state — not just the St. Louis area.

"There are a million jobs in manufacturing across the state of Missouri," Dixon said. "Between GM and Ford (at the Claycomo plant north of Kansas City), there's less than 10,000 employees — so the automotive industry in Missouri is massive."

Dixon added: "The automotive industry has suppliers in every corner of Missouri — in large cities and small towns. They're distributed all across the state" — and automotive-related jobs in Missouri have "about $81,000 a year in average wages."

The governor said: "One of the things, coming from rural Missouri, that I've always tried my best to make sure — we want all Missouri to do well, no matter where you're from in the state."

The automotive industry has a payroll over $200 million a year, the governor said. "That's a huge impact all over the state," he said.

Parson and Dixon said they could not discuss specifics of the briefing or of GM's requests to Missouri.

Lawmakers who attended the briefing also declined to discuss specifics.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday that GM was expected to ask the state for a package of incentives to help pay for job training and retooling at the light truck and van manufacturing facility in western St. Charles County.

"To be clear," Parson said, "we have not completed any negotiations (and) we are competing against other states."

The governor didn't identify the other states, nor say how many others GM is considering.

But, he said, Missouri officials want to win GM's expansion decision, and "in order to do so, we have to put our best foot forward."

Dixon told reporters: "We know that Missouri has what it takes to help this opportunity come to our state.

"Over the next couple of weeks, we'll be working with leadership here in Jefferson City, to do whatever it takes to get this done — and we'll be working with, obviously, the company along the way."

Parson didn't say if GM had set a deadline, but told reporters, that for now, he and lawmakers are focused on what needs to be done in the Legislature's last two weeks, before the session must end at 6 p.m. May 17.

House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, said there's enough time in the last two weeks of the session to pass legislation needed to help encourage GM to choose Missouri.

"At this point, we don't believe a special session would be necessary," he told reporters. "The governor's office is working with us on the possibility of some legislation. We'll be working over the weekend to fine tune that. And, we'll hopefully roll it out next week."

Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, was pleased Parson included lawmakers about the GM interest.

"The governor did not have to call us in and tell us about this and brief us, but he did," she said. "I'm glad our lines of communication are open.

"When you talk about a project this large possible coming to Wentzville, Missouri, I think we all should all be cautiously optimistic and hopeful."

EARLIER COVERAGE: 

Gov. Mike Parson met Thursday morning with a number of legislative leaders about Missouri's efforts to get an expansion of General Motors' plant at Wentzville.

"We just wrapped up a very productive briefing with representatives from General Motors and House and Senate leaders — along with Director (Rob) Dixon of Economic Development," Parson told reporters Thursday morning. "I am excited that Missouri has a seat at the table to compete for a tremendous opportunity that will provide a boost to our state and our regional economy."

Parson and Dixon said they could not discuss specifics of the briefing or of GM's request.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday that GM was expected to ask the state for a package of incentives to help pay for job training and retooling at the light truck and van manufacturing facility in western St. Charles County.

"To be clear," Parson said, "we have not completed any negotiations (and) we are competing against other states."

He didn't say if GM had set a deadline, but told reporters that, for now, he and lawmakers are focused on what needs to be done in the Legislature's last two weeks before the session must end at 6 p.m. May 17.


This story was updated at 10:30 p.m. May 2, 2019, with additional details.