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General Motors announcement may have little impact locally, say experts



Chris King Chief Executive Officer, Quinte Economic Development Commission. Photo by, Matthew Morgan QNet news.

By Connor Robinson [2]

BELLEVILLE – A major announcement by General  Motors to save 300 jobs at its Oshawa plant earlier this week will have little impact locally, say two experts.

On May 8th General Motors [3] and Unifor [4] made a joint announcement regarding the future of the GM plant in Oshawa. It will invest $170 million [5] in the facility 22 hectares will be converted into test track in order to test autonomous vehicles at the facility; while other parts of the plant will move from vehicle assembly to stamping, sub-assembly, and other miscellaneous activities for General Motors. The new business will retain 300 Oshawa jobs with the potential to grow and generate significant additional jobs in the coming years, as the business attracts new customers.

The city is by no means a stranger to automotive manufacturing. Belleville does have some automotive-related industries with three Magna Autosystems plants and two Hanon Systems plants.

Chris King, chief executive officer of The Quinte Economic Development Commission, said he is not overly concerned.

“When the first GM announcement was made about closing the Oshawa plant we reached out to a lot of the local companies to see what the impact would be and the consensus was they had very little or no exposure to the GM plant in Oshawa. So they were making parts here but shipping them out all across North America but for whatever reason GM Oshawa wasn’t a big part of their sales,” he said.

In November 2018, GM announced it was closing the Oshawa plant, putting 2,600 employees and 300 salaried staff out of work. The union estimated it would impact 160,000 jobs across Ontario.

Wayne Lainchbury a part-time professor in the Automotive Program at Loyalist College, also skeptical about the impact within Quinte.

A mechanic for 15 years, he said the announcement of GM keeping 300 jobs at the plant may help the Quinte Region.

” It won’t really impact us financially or industrially,” Lainchbury said. “I mean we’re kind of far offshore is just far enough away that those things don’t trickle down.”