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Kansas City’s Auto Assembly Sector Revs Up With New Parts Plant

Kansas City’s thriving auto-assembly sector notched another win Thursday, as the Canadian company Martinrea broke ground on a new parts plant in Riverside.  

Martinrea says it will hire as many as 290 people to crank out front end parts for the Malibu that GM builds by the thousands across the river from Riverside, in Fairfax. The company will reportedly see more than $3 million in state incentives. But Kansas City Area Development Council CEO Bob Marcus says, auto parts manufacturers are moving here for another good reason.

“It’s because there have been major investments by Ford and by General Motors. Both of those plants have been the recipients of hundreds of millions, and in Ford’s case over $1 billion in capitol investment,” says Marcus.

Marcus says about a dozen auto parts manufactures have broken ground or expanded in Kansas City recently, because the area’s auto assembly plants are some of the nation’s most productive. He says Claycomo was, by most recent measure, the largest auto assembly plant in the country, in terms of output.

“Right here in Kansas City you have two of the top ten plants in the entire country,” says Marcus. “And they have received some exciting products to build.”

Ford Transit vans, made in Turkey previously, will roll off the line in Claycomo any day now. Ford’s also gearing up to build its new model F150 pickup here. That truck’s made largely out of aluminum, a big switch, and one likely to attract still more parts plants to the Kansas City area.

I’ve been at KCUR almost 30 years, working partly for NPR and splitting my time between local and national reporting. I work to bring extra attention to people in the Midwest, my home state of Kansas and of course Kansas City. What I love about this job is having a license to talk to interesting people and then crafting radio stories around their voices. It’s a big responsibility to uphold the truth of those stories while condensing them for lots of other people listening to the radio, and I take it seriously. Email me at frank@kcur.org or find me on Twitter @FrankNewsman.
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