A big industrial complex to be built for General Motors suppliers at the old Six Flags Mall site will bring more than 850 new jobs to Arlington, including about 600 for work currently being done outside the country, mostly in Mexico, officials said Friday.
International Automotive Components Group, which makes door panels, flooring, instrument panels and other parts, will be among the largest tenants at what is being dubbed the Arlington Automotive Logistics Center, located near GM’s sprawling Arlington Assembly Plant.
Suppliers at the complex will provide as many as 1,250 jobs, with about 400 relocating from other area locations. Officials expect the complex to open in about a year.
IAC, which has 22 factories in the U.S., will lease about 500,000 square feet at the 1.2 million-square-foot complex, which will consist of two industrial warehouses built on 83 acres at the northeast corner of Texas 360 and East Division Street — catty-corner from the GM plant. The defunct mall was demolished earlier this year.
Mayor Jeff Williams, among a half-dozen speakers at a groundbreaking ceremony, said the project “enables us to redevelop a piece of property that was no longer viable, transforming an old mall site into a logistics center that is projected to generate $151 million in taxable sales and purchases over the next decade.”
The deal marks the latest move by GM to set up supplier parks near its U.S. manufacturing plants to lower costs and improve quality. Similar complexes have been located near GM plants in Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Indiana.
“For us, it’s a great opportunity to improve our overall efficiency by bringing some of the suppliers in closer to the manufacturing facility and through locally sourcing the work and consolidating shipping routes,” GM spokesman Nick Richards said in an interview.
GM currently employs about 4,225 people at its Arlington assembly plant, where it builds large sport utility vehicles, including the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade.
Steve Keifer, GM’s senior vice president of global purchasing and supply chain, noted GM’s long history in Arlington, which dates to the plant’s opening in 1954. The first vehicle it produced was the Pontiac Chieftain, he said.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz called the ceremony a celebration of “jobs, economic development and new investment,” and then he pointed to Keifer. “I’m pretty confident that just over there, there’d be room for a new global headquarters of General Motors.”
Keifer laughed and promised to “bring it up in Detroit.”
NP Arlington LLC, an entity created by the owner of the site — Northpoint Development of Kansas City — will own the buildings and lease them to GM, which will sublease them to its suppliers.
Chad Meyer, president and chief operating officer of Northpoint, said the company started working on the project more than three years ago, buying and assembling property at the mall site. He commended the city staff for doing “exactly what you said you would do — with disturbing regularity, which is rare in our industry.”
Most of the 600 out-of-country jobs will come from IAC, a company founded by Wilbur Ross, now U.S. secretary of commerce, which has eight plants in Mexico. But Steve Miller, IAC’s president and chief executive, said no Mexican workers will lose their jobs.
“We are running at capacity and expect to be running at capacity for the foreseeable future, even without making parts for GM down there,” Miller said. “We’re not shutting down any capacity in Mexico.” Instead, he said, the move to Arlington will relieve pressure to expand capacity elsewhere.
Miller said IAC will employ 750 workers in Arlington, among the more than 30,000 workers at 75 IAC plants worldwide. He said GM represents 20 percent of IAC’s total business and is its largest single customer.
The announcement comes as the Trump administration is preparing to renegotiate the North America Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. Trump has criticized the flow of jobs to Mexico and, after being elected, he launched a Twitter campaign against U.S. automakers, threatening a border tax on vehicles imported into the country. Ross, who stepped away from IAC before Trump’s election, is the president’s point person on NAFTA.
GM has been expanding in Arlington in recent years, boosted by strong sales of its SUVs since gas prices softened. It currently is in the midst of a $1.4 billion expansion and upgrade that will add new paint and body shops.
On Tuesday, the Arlington City Council approved tax incentives worth about $13.3 million over 10 years to assist the development, which is expected to be completed by December 2018.
Richards said the 850 new jobs are with “tier one” suppliers, which create components for delivery. About 400 jobs are with second-tier suppliers, which mostly assemble components from other manufacturers before delivery. Those jobs will be consolidated on site from several area suppliers, Richards said.