Chair, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
(Resident of Kansas City, MO)
As Chair of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, I’d like to express my thanks and appreciation to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s decision to call a special session of the Missouri Legislature to consider an incentive package to help retain Ford Motor Company’s Claycomo plant.
The Claycomo Ford plant employs 4300 local men and women – and those jobs are at risk. The Chamber has been working closely with the governor, area legislators and with a task force focused on keeping those men and women employed.
To say that we were disappointed by the Missouri legislature’s failure to enact any economic development bill, much less the incentives designed to keep Claycomo’s lines running, is an understatement. Though economic indicators are improving, there is still distance to travel on the road to recovery. In these difficult times, Missouri’s political leadership has an obligation to keep and create jobs.
The Claycomo plant has a long history on the Kansas City landscape, opening in 1951 for military production during the Korean War, converting to auto assembly in 1956, opening in 1957 as a Ford assembly plant. At one time, Missouri was second only to Detroit in automotive-related jobs. Currently, the plant manufactures the Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, and F-150 pickup.
Ford has announced it intends to end production of the Mariner and Escape at Claycomo, perhaps as early as next summer. There’s been no announcement, however, of any new lines planned for production at the plant – and that’s troubling.
This is about jobs – and more. By some accounts, the plant is the largest tax-generator in Clay County, providing substantial funding for the Liberty and North Kansas City Schools. According to information gathered by the task force, the Claycomo plant has economic ripples affecting 113 of the 114 counties in Missouri, with at least one company in each doing business with the plant.
Claycomo has been called the largest automobile manufacturing plant in the U.S. in number of vehicles produced.
- The plant is the region’s #1 manufacturing employer and the ninth largest employer overall.
- A full-time manufacturing job supports roughly two other jobs, so Claycomo jobs indirectly support nearly 9,000 other employees throughout the metro area.
- In large part thanks to Ford, the Kansas City area has retained the fourth-highest percentage of manufacturing jobs among 37 metro areas The Chamber is tracking in its Regional Competitiveness Database
- In May, the F-series truck ranked 1st in vehicle sales nationwide, and the Escape ranked 12th. Year-to-date through May, F-series truck sales were up 34.9 percent, while Escape sales were up 36.7 percent.
Meanwhile, the silence from Ford – so far – as to the company’s plans for Claycomo is worrisome. That’s why The Chamber is hosting Ford CEO Alan Mulally at a special luncheon here on September 16. We think there’s a good story to tell, including Claycomo’s consistently high productivity numbers. We’re also interested in hearing what Mr. Mulally has to say.
The Chamber urges Missouri legislators to quickly approve the appropriate incentive package to keep those 4300 jobs. This is too important to our regional economy, our businesses and our people.