$1.2 billion General Motors plant expansion possible for Arlington

An auto worker inspects finished SUVs coming off the assembly line at the General Motors plant in Arlington.
An auto worker inspects finished SUVs coming off the assembly line at the General Motors plant in Arlington. AP archives

General Motors is weighing a $1.2 billion expansion of its 60-year-old Arlington assembly plant, which would bring hundreds of new jobs to town, Mayor Robert Cluck said Wednesday.

The City Council is expected to hold a public hearing and take its first vote Tuesday on whether to establish a reinvestment zone that would allow the city to offer tax incentives to GM, Cluck said.

The company is considering expanding the plant’s footprint by 1.2 million square feet over three years and adding a projected 589 permanent jobs, according to a staff report published on the city’s website.

“This is really important to Arlington because it means new investment,” Cluck said. “It means hundreds of new jobs.”

A GM spokeswoman declined an interview request, saying an official announcement won’t be made for a couple of months. But in a statement, she said the company is “developing a business case for a potential future investment at Arlington Assembly.”

“GM is investing all the time, in their people, product facilities and communities. We are always looking for opportunities to improve our abilities to bring the best products to our customers,” said a statement sent by Jennie Ecclestone. “An investment would fund facility improvements aimed at strengthening the plant’s manufacturing capability. We cannot share details at this time.”

The company is proposing about $307 million in physical improvements and $986 million in new equipment to help modernize the plant and enhance efficiency, Cluck said.

If the council approves the reinvestment zone Tuesday, it could vote on incentives as soon as April 28. Arlington is proposing granting a 10-year, 80 percent abatement of real and business personal property taxes, as well as waiving permit and development fees, according to a city staff report.

The report did not say how much money the incentives could save the company annually.

Cluck said he’s confident the council will approve the reinvestment zone as well as incentives in the future if GM moves forward with the expansion.

“They have not promised us that they are going to do this, but this is the first step,” Cluck said. “In order to get those new jobs and salaries and benefits, we have to make an investment. We are very willing to do that.”

The Arlington plant, which opened in 1954 and directly employs about 3,500 people, has built more than 10 million vehicles. It is now the only GM facility to produce full-size sport utility vehicles, including the Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade.

Last fall, GM opened a stamping facility as part of a $530 million expansion and overhaul of the Arlington plant to prepare for the new SUV models. That followed a $331 million body shop expansion and retooling.

The company also bought 11.5 acres on Abram Street across from the assembly plant for future use. The property, at 2540 E. Abram St., includes the now-closed Cowboys Dancehall, which had operated there for 20 years.

The council has approved various economic incentives for GM over the years.

To help lure the stamping facility, which brought about 180 jobs, the council approved a 10-year, 90 percent tax abatement for new buildings and equipment. That saves the company more than $1 million annually in city taxes.

Before that, the city offered GM an identical incentive package to secure the multimillion-dollar body shop expansion and retooling, which brought about 110 jobs. That deal saved GM about $1.2 million annually in city taxes.

“We probably have never said ‘no’ to GM as far as expansion is concerned,” Cluck said. “We have a beautiful relationship with them.”

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639

Twitter: @susanschrock