By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — The prospect of additional investment into and more jobs coming to Chrysler’s Trenton North auto plant has yet to be confirmed, but city officials hope to see the expanded operations announced last fall become a reality this year or next.
“We’re always happy to get more jobs in the area that will stay,” Mayor Kyle Stack said. The auto giant could provide “an anchor for people who want to work and live in the area.”
A report surfaced earlier this month that indicated Chrysler might be ready to follow up on discussions held last fall, when city officials passed an Industrial Facilities Tax abatement.
At the time Chrysler announced three expansion programs, one of which would bring investments of $40 million to add a flexible production line at Trenton North to build the company’s fuel-efficient Pentastar and Tigershark engines, the latter to be used in Dodge Darts. The proposal added to a June announcement of more than 250 possible jobs after the retooling.
No further details were available.
Last week, Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson confirmed the contents of a November 2012 announcement of the proposed changes. Retooling Trenton North was included in a $240 million plan throughout metro Detroit, adding more than 1,250 jobs in Trenton, Detroit and Warren, where a truck plant added 1,000 jobs to its third crew in March.
According to city officials, however, recent meetings with the company did not include plans for additional or immediate investment.
City Administrator Jim Wagner said there remains hope that jobs, business and investments continue in Trenton. After several frustrating years of inactivity, there has been recent progress with the former Riverside Hospital complex rising from its abandoned state; investors have spoken with increasing interest in the Detroit Steel property, and — perhaps even more telling, Stack said — smaller, downtown business interest is revived.
The former A&W on Jefferson Avenue will soon be a locally-owned coffee shop, and several franchise establishments will do renovation work this year.
“Even in the smaller places you can see when people are going to stay,” Stack said. “They’ll stick around for a while. They’re small, but everything counts.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])