General Motors Powertrain confirmed (2/8/00) its plans for a new high-tech engine manufacturing plant here.

To be located on Vulcan Street, the 711,000 square-foot facility will produce a family of world class, high-efficiency engines.

"This decision reflects our recognition of the competitiveness of Tonawanda and the commitment to the hourly and salaried work force. The continuing cooperation of public officials, union and community leaders has helped to ensure the future of the plant and the preservation of the maximum number of job opportunities," said Arv Mueller, General Motors group vice president, GM Powertrain.

"GM's decision sends a powerful message across the country that Western New York can compete for and win major economic development investments, because of the sweeping changes we have made in our business climate," said Gov. George Pataki. "It is also a vote of confidence for the GM workers, who earned this victory through their hard work."

A formal groundbreaking ceremony is being planned for later in the year.

Erie County Executive Joel Giambra cited the strong partnership among state and local government agencies and GM as a key factor in placing the new plant in Erie County. "I could not be more pleased with the level of cooperation that we sustained throughout the long process of bringing this considerable investment to Tonawanda," he said.

Jeff Pietrzyk, shop chairman of UAW Local 774, said he was excited about GM's decision to put the new product at Tonawanda. "This new plant will be a high tech showplace for union-management cooperation and the world-class production of quality engines," he said. "Local 774 proud to be a partner in helping to bring this investment to Western New York and to retain automotive jobs for the region."

GM Powertrain will install agile manufacturing equipment in the new facility to create a more flexible plant, according to Homi Patel, vice president and general manager of manufacturing for GM Powertrain. "Our expectation is that the plant will produce a world-class product for our customers and will establish benchmark levels of performance for safety, quality, responsiveness, cost and productivity," he said.

Plant manager Arvin Jones expressed appreciation for the continuing efforts of Erie County, the Erie County Industrial Development Authority, the State of New York, the Town of Tonawanda and other government agencies. "We look forward to continuing to work with the state and the county to further enhance the retention of jobs and to produce this engine in Erie County," he said.

Aluminum blocks and heads will be cast at GM Powertrain's facility in Defiance, Ohio, which will use lost-foam technology for the first time. Built in 1948, the Defiance facility employs approximately 4,000 hourly and salaried workers and produces cast iron engine components including blocks, heads and crankshafts for a variety of applications.

The Tonawanda engine facility employs about 3,800 workers and produces four, six and eight cylinder engines for a variety of applications.