Some economic good news has come to Western New York recently with announcements that two companies here will each be adding hundreds of jobs.
Investments announced a couple of years ago are starting to come to fruition at General Motors’ Town of Tonawanda engine plant. Engines that will be produced at the plant will go into new versions of the automaker’s top-selling Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks.
It all means more work for a plant that currently has about 1,100 hourly and salaried workers. That total is expected to rise to 1,600 or 1,700 over the next year, as Tonawanda’s new engine lines enter full production.
The domestic auto industry was in a tailspin only a few years ago, and GM was forced to restructure in a government-backed bankruptcy. Western New York faced particular impact from the sinking auto economy, with its GM and Ford plants among the remaining links to the area’s glory days of manufacturing.
Ford has remained relatively healthy, and GM did not collapse. In fact, it announced major investments in Western New York. The Tonawanda complex will be the lead supplier of three new engines for the trucks, and the only GM plant that produces all three of them. In addition, GM recently announced that the Tonawanda plant would be the exclusive supplier of a V8 engine for the next-generation C7 Corvette.
If that wasn’t enough good news, earlier this year the plant launched production of a new Ecotec four-cylinder engine for the Chevrolet Malibu and Cadillac ATS, resulting from a separate, $425-million investment.
Indeed, it’s been a long road for the auto industry, and one filled with financial potholes that required government help to fill. There were plenty of skeptics about that help, and whether the government was wasting taxpayer money on a fruitless bailout.
Those concerns are now in the rear-view mirror as GM and its Town of Tonawanda engine plant thrive.
Another company in another field altogether is also adding hundreds of jobs here.
GEICO, one of the nation’s largest auto insurers, landed in Western New York with great fanfare in 2004. The company is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which also owns The Buffalo News. GEICO has consistently fulfilled promises to add jobs and now it is bringing even more.
The most recent announcement involves the addition of 500 new jobs to its Amherst operations center. The goal is to serve more customers in New Jersey and New England. According to officials, the company wants to hire “as many qualified candidates as we can get” for its sales, customer service and claims operations, as well as for its GEICO Agency.
And that’s good news, as this region has plenty of qualified candidates to fill those and plenty of other positions. Companies that locate here find a ready-to-work pool of workers.
This is also an area ready and willing to work to make available locations, low-cost power and other incentives – including often-criticized tax incentives – in order to get employers up and running.
The recent announcements by both GM and GEICO reaffirming their confidence in Western New York’s workforce is good news worth celebrating.