Ford is investing $700 million to expand operations at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan and build autonomous and electric vehicles, creating 700 new jobs over the next four years. The company also announced that it was canceling a new $1.6 billion plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico in favor of the new Michigan plant expansion.
Even though Ford executives have emphasized that pressure from the incoming Trump administration didn’t impact their decisions, Ford CEO Mark Fields told CNN that the investment in Michigan was a “vote of confidence” in the pro-business environment that the President elect has promised to implement.
“We expect pro-growth, pro-manufacturing policies and support from the incoming administration,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, in an interview with The Verge. “We took them into account when we made these decisions, but we have a history of investing in the United States... it’s a reinforcement of what has historically been our policy: to invest where we sell. And the US market is very important to us.”
President-elect Trump hammered Ford during the election cycle for plans to move jobs to Mexico, and later claimed credit when Ford announced that it was no longer moving production of the Lincoln MKC to Mexico, though the company cited “changing business conditions” for the decision rather than pressure from Trump. Ford CEO Mark Fields again cited business demands for the cancelling of the Mexican plant, though there’s no denying that the optics of the decision will play into Trump’s narrative.
The president-elect wasted no time promoting today’s decision from Ford on Twitter, retweeting a New York Post article titled “Trump is already delivering the jobs he promised America.” The influential Drudge Report prominently linked the story under the headline “Great Again,” a reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan from the campaign, and a number of news outlets linked Ford’s decision to Trump.
“There was a lot of discussion during the campaign” about US manufacturing and jobs, said Hinrichs. “And we’re proud of the fact that we’re a big US manufacturer and we want to see that continue.”
The news follows an announcement from the president-elect back in November that he had reached a deal with the air conditioning giant Carrier to keep a number of jobs in Indiana that had been slated to head to Mexico. Though both Trump and Carrier have been criticized over the total number of jobs to be saved, as well as the tax breaks that are said to have made it possible, the positive optics of both the Carrier and Ford announcements are undeniable — especially after Trump won union-heavy Michigan.