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Norfolk Business

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Ouch, the Ford plant is closing.

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Why would you close the most efficient plant in the country! This is really bad news. :cry:

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Well Ford really surprised a lot of people and has decided to close the Ford assembly plant in Norfolk. It is somewhat suprising because they just spent so much money $350+ million) to update it and fit it for future models. They will lose most of that investment. I have a cousin who works there, but he has an education and seniority, so he will hopefully have some options. Others I'm not so sure about. :(

http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/provider/...0413&ID=5642539

http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories/story...n=84380&tref=po

(Pilot link not working yet)

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Well Ford really surprised a lot of people and has decided to close the Ford assembly plant in Norfolk. It is somewhat suprising because they just spent so much money $350+ million) to update it and fit it for future models. They will lose most of that investment. I have a cousin who works there, but he has an education and seniority, so he will hopefully have some options. Others I'm not so sure about. :(

http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/provider/...0413&ID=5642539

http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories/story...n=84380&tref=po

(Pilot link not working yet)

Wow, this came out of nowhere. It is surprising as they were also scheduled to build a 10 story building on their campus sometime in the near future. They also recently stated that the local plant was doing good. It's strange and troubling to say the least.

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This makes no sense. Recent multi million dollar expansion. Builds the only vehicle that Ford can make money on. Don't forget the tax payers in Norfolk and the state are getting hosed on this via the millions in incentives Ford recently hit up the city and state for. No wonder why European and Asian automakers are kicking GM's and Ford's butt.

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Looks like Ford's going to go under.

I don't think they're going under, I think it's just a sign of the times. Hard to sell gas guzzlers when gas is $3.00 a gallon. Seeing as they're closing truck and SUV plants it seems as though they may be shifting focus to their smaller or more fuel efficient vehicles.

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Builds the only vehicle that Ford can make money on. Don't forget the tax payers in Norfolk and the state are getting hosed on this via the millions in incentives Ford recently hit up the city and state for.

There may be grounds for a lawsuit here if that is the case. I'm sure there are plenty of other plants they could've closed besides norfolks. Also, $350 million is a lot of money to just throw away. There may be some politics involved in the decision as well.

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There may be grounds for a lawsuit here if that is the case. I'm sure there are plenty of other plants they could've closed besides norfolks. Also, $350 million is a lot of money to just throw away. There may be some politics involved in the decision as well.

Not likely to be a lawsuit. Most government subsidies comes with strings attached, with a big condition of those subsidies is usually that the company must employ a certain minimum number of people over a certain period of time. Most likely due to the amount of money involved (and the nature of the business), Ford will not meet all of those conditions, and will have to give back some of that money. No doubt the closing in 2008 is probably more linked to finances than any real concern for its' employees.

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This may be a concession to the union. Although the Norfolk Ford plant is unionized, Virginia is still a right-to-work state so unions are weak. Michigan has very strong union laws. I'm not sure about Missouri but considering the blue-collar areas of St. Louis and KC, I'd imagine it is also very pro-union. Since both states have F-150 plants, Ford may have deferred to the union as a concession in cutting costs.

One advantage of foreign auto makers is that they are locating in Southern states which have weak labor laws. Maybe Norfolk could entice a foreign automaker to locate to the Ford assembly plant once it closes.

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I don't think they're going under, I think it's just a sign of the times. Hard to sell gas guzzlers when gas is $3.00 a gallon. Seeing as they're closing truck and SUV plants it seems as though they may be shifting focus to their smaller or more fuel efficient vehicles.

This is actually part of the 14 plant closings that were announced earlier this year. My cousin has been working 3 weeks on, 1 week off for the last bit and has been a bit apprehensive since Ford opened that big plant in Michigan that also builds F-150s. I'm sure a significant factor in the decision was the price of gas and the relative likelyhood that the price will not substantially subside. As well, another other factor in the closing is likely that new Michigan plant. With Norfolk being so far away from the major suppliers, it adds significant $$$ to the costs of assembly, most efficient plant in the country or not. (There may also be some truth to Hoobo's argument as well).

This will definately hurt the local economy as these were 2,400 high paying jobs in a region not known for its abundance of them. As well, there are/were a couple of suppliers for the plant in the area that employ several hundred people, suppliers who will almost certainly close up shop now. Norfolk Southern will lose business since almost all of the trucks were shipped out via rail, and hundreds of indirect jobs will be lost. Sad Sad Sad.

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This might explain why City officials have been so squirrelly lately about doing the right thing and offering some property tax relief. This is horrible news for us.

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I hate to see this happen to us, but it's like they say if it doesn't kill us, it makes us stronger ( I hope).

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Just when things are going so well for Norfolk.. but then Ford is in trouble although I question them closing this particular efficient plant.

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I wonder if the city can court another automaker back to that location? It's sad! It seems that we can only keep low paying jobs here.

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GM is in trouble too. Seems the only ones doing well are the 'foreign' auto makers although they are assembled domestically these days.

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I wonder if the city can court another automaker back to that location? It's sad! It seems that we can only keep low paying jobs here.

I seriously doubt that another maker will be able to walk right in and try to locate there. I dunno, VW built the Rabbit (which they are bringing back in 2007 BTW) in an old Chrysler plant in PA for ten years. BUT, I think that Ford owns the property and will more than likely squat on it to keep another car maker from gaining more ground. Plus, it would just be cheaper to build a new plant in MS or AL where they can pay people $12 an hour (and then those people think they are making out like bandits).

This is pretty bad news for a city like Norfolk that has been basically giving away taxes and building sites all over DT. Hopefully the city can do something to that land where the plant is, but that whole area of Norfolk is already so far beyond any kind of revitalization now. Usually auto plants that have been there for 70+ years have tons of toxic wastes and cheimicals as well so I am sure that means anything being built there would have to be industrial as well. Ugh, very bad news for the region, especially Norfolk though.

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I wonder if the city can court another automaker back to that location? It's sad! It seems that we can only keep low paying jobs here.

A difficult prospect at best, considering there are going to be 10-15 assembly plants and many more other plants closing in there next 2-3 years between GM and Ford. That means a lot of competition between localities to bring in other manufacturers. Norfolk has some advantages from the new investments in the plant by Ford, to the close seaport and rail links, and the state has flexible labour laws and low taxes. But there will be the legacy of the union here, which will significantly hurt chances. Time will tell, but in all likelyhood the plant will probably be torn down.

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BUT, I think that Ford owns the property and will more than likely squat on it to keep another car maker from gaining more ground.

If another manufacturer was seriously considering buying the property, Ford would sell it in a heartbeat. They wouldn't hang onto it for the sake of hoping to retain market share, as the cost to do so would be very high (idle land which they must pay taxes on, plus the lost revenue from the sale of plant, when the company desperately needs cash). Also a manufacturer who was determined to build a new plant is going to put it somewhere, no matter what Ford would like to do, not to mention they would be under immense political pressure to do so.

Plus, it would just be cheaper to build a new plant in MS or AL where they can pay people $12 an hour (and then those people think they are making out like bandits).

Wrong again. The "foreign" manufacturers in the South pay almost as well in terms of salary as do the union American manufacturers. The difference is that the "foreign" manufacturers aren't stuck paying 95% of healthcare costs and retirement benefits. They don't have pensions, but use employee electable 401k plans, and healthcare costs are also more equitably distributed.

This is pretty bad news for a city like Norfolk that has been basically giving away taxes and building sites all over DT. Hopefully the city can do something to that land where the plant is, but that whole area of Norfolk is already so far beyond any kind of revitalization now. Usually auto plants that have been there for 70+ years have tons of toxic wastes and cheimicals as well so I am sure that means anything being built there would have to be industrial as well. Ugh, very bad news for the region, especially Norfolk though.

It is bad news for Norfolk, but not for downtown. What taxes has Norfolk been giving away? I'm sure its citizens would be interested to hear that. As well, the assembly site in Norfolk is not heavily polluted because the plant has always been mostly assembly, and not fabrication which is much dirtier work.

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I'm not surprised Ford is having issues, but I'm a bit surprised the Norfolk plant is being closed as the F-150 is one of their better selling products.

Many of the auto makers did these "employee discount" type sales deals to bring in lots of sales (and more importantly, the financing). The lending is where the money is at.

Going forward I bet we see quite a bit more of this. Americans live above their means (savings is negative, household debt is nuts).

I used to drive a Ford Tempo. It had some pretty severe issues, lasted about 109,000 miles. Bought a Honda. The alternator failed. Open the hood, big "Made in the USA" sticker. Turns out to be a delco alternator or something. So much for trying to get japanese quality.

I don't understand why a company that charges a fair amount for their product (auto makers) can't compensate workers fairly, without sacrificing the rewards that go to all the rich people that invest and run the company. But no, the millions and millions of dollars they make in return on their investment isn't enough. More, more more he cried.

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I don't understand why a company that charges a fair amount for their product (auto makers) can't compensate workers fairly, without sacrificing the rewards that go to all the rich people that invest and run the company. But no, the millions and millions of dollars they make in return on their investment isn't enough. More, more more he cried.

American auto manufacturers have very small margins on their passenger car sales. Declining market volume of their vehicles further reduces these slim profits. They make their money on trucks and SUVs which have huge margins. That's why American car companies were doing great in the late 90's. Once gas prices went up permanantly, people started to buy fewer gas-guzzlers. Declining sales in the money makers led to losses on the balance sheet.

Japanese and European automakers are able to charge a permium on their passenger cars because of perceived reliability and/or prestige. Thus, they don't rely on gas-guzzling SUVs to prop up their books. In order to compete with foreign cars, the once unreliable American manufacturers have to sell at a lower price. Couple that with ridiculous labor costs and you get losses.

Over the past decade American cars have become as reliable as Japanese cars according to JD Power and Consumer Reports. Unfortunately, people still look at American cars as being unreliable so they refuse to pay the same price for a Chevy Malibu as they would for a Honda Accord.

Furthermore, American auto workers are overcompensated for their skill level thanks to the UAW, most powerful union in this country.

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American cars really have improved, although Consumer Reports still lists best reliability ratings mostly to Toyota and Honda products. It looks like it's really time to try doing things differently. A comprehensive plan is needed to get us out of an incomprehensibly messy rut. Labor, health care, technological and managerial issues make for quite an elephant to eat. I sure hope somebody is hungry.

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Man I can't believe they did that.... I thought the Norfolk plant was one of the best... I can't stand the way American automakers have killed themselves through horrible decision making and allowed foreign brands to take over. Damn...

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It seems like the state will try to do what it can to help with the situation...

In Richmond, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said he was disappointed by the development and noted that he traveled to Detroit in February after the company announced a series of domestic plant closings.

"We will continue to make the case that Ford should reconsider this decision, or at least delay the scheduled date for ending operations at the Norfolk assembly plant," the governor said. "If that effort is not successful, my administration will work with the company, local and regional leaders, organized labor, and others to try to minimize the eventual impact of this announcement on the Hampton Roads community."

Times Dispatch: Ford to shutter Norfolk plant...

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