Camaro means economic boom for Oshawa

Experts say impact will be substantial

Source -
Aug 22, 2006 - By Jillian Follert

OSHAWA -- They won't speculate on hard numbers just yet, but experts agree this week's announcement that GM's new Camaro will be built in Oshawa translates to a major economic boost for the city and the region.

"The economic implications are huge," said Pat Olive, commissioner of economic development and tourism for the Region of Durham. "It takes the uncertainty away. By bringing flexible manufacturing here, it will allow other units to be built with that same process. This is just the start."

The new product and the conversion of Oshawa's Plant No.1 and 2 into a flexible manufacturing facility, are the result of a $740 million investment from GM.

Last fall, the automaker sent shock waves through the city when it announced plans to close Oshawa's Plant 2 and eliminate the third shift at Plant 1, cutting more than 3,000 jobs.

While union officials won't say how many of those might be rescued as a result of the Camaro program, some have estimated as many as 2,700.

According to Gerald Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturer's Association, it also means local manufacturers will be in a good position to win contracts to build the new Camaro parts, because of their close proximity to the plant.

"Without this, that plant would be closed. Now they have a product that will be around for a long time, it's an impact that will measure in the billions," he estimated. "You can't get much better than this."

Also enthusiastic about the economic spin-off potential was Chis Buckley, president of CAW Local 222, which represents Oshawa's GM employees.

"This is a great day for our members in the Local 222, not only in the car plants but in the parts sector as well. You need to remember that for every one assembly job we have in the autoplex, it creates another 7.5 outside," he explained. "All the details at this point we don't have firmed up but I do know this will help secure jobs in the auto parts industry as well."

Production of the new Camaro will begin in 2008, with the vehicles scheduled to hit showrooms in the first quarter of 2009.

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