Moraine is likely to see a surge in economic activity as industries begin to reopen this summer, due largely to the community’s rich employment base in the manufacturing and automotive sectors.
In 2019, DMAX Ltd., a 60/40 joint venture between General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) and Isuzu Motors Ltd., announced the company’s Moraine plant was among three Ohio facilities that would benefit from a $700 million statewide investment. DMAX later broke ground on a $175 million plant in Brookville that will machine diesel engine components for production at the Moraine site.
The project will enable DMAX to accelerate production in Moraine, prompting an influx of new jobs. Diesel engines produced at Moraine are sent to the Flint assembly plant, where they end up in Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickups.
Progress on the Brookville project is well underway, said Daniel Flores, a GM spokesman. The building has roof and siding, and work continues on utilities for electrical, water, natural gas, sewer, fire protection sprinkler and fire alarm systems.
Site paving, final grade and seeding are also in progress, and the current estimate for permanent electrical power to the facility is in the fourth quarter of 2020.
GM restarted most of its manufacturing operations in the U.S. and Canada in late May. As North American plants resume normal operation, activity at the Moraine facility is likely to swell.
“We will add additional shifts as it makes sense,” Flores said. “Market demand for the Silverado and Sierra has remained strong, so we currently anticipate continued strong demand for the Duramax diesel engines built in Moraine.”
DMAX has built more than 2 million diesel engines since the facility opened in 1999. DMAX currently employs nearly 900, and its 670 hourly employees are represented by IUE-CWA Local 755.
The community’s largest employer, Fuyao Glass America, also plans to grow — though the company’s management said challenges associated with the pandemic may interfere with the timeline of its latest investment.
In January, Fuyao announced that it would invest $46 million into a research and development expansion that will create 100 new jobs at the Moraine plant, bringing local employment to 2,400 workers. That investment is currently on hold, as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) production remains lower than pre-pandemic levels.
“The expansion is on hold due to the pandemic,” Fuyao’s management team said in a statement. “All the OEMs resumption of production has been very slow and it will take longer time to recover. Our expansion plans are based on customer order requirements.”
Fuyao first invested in Moraine in 2014, committing to create 800 jobs for its OEM customers. In 2015, it pledged to create 750 additional jobs to manufacture after-market glass. Today, the company has roughly 2,300 associates at the plant.
Manufacturing is the largest industry in Moraine, accounting for more than 20% of jobs in the community, according to the city’s economic development department.