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Ford Investing $1.2 Billion in Plants as Trump Touts Jobs

March 30, 2017
Ford announced it will be investing $1.2 billion in three Michigan factories, giving President Trump something new to tweet about.

Ford Motor Co. will invest $1.2 billion in three Michigan factories, paving the way for a return of the Ranger pickup and Bronco sport utility vehicle and winning praise from President Donald Trump.

About $1 billion of Ford’s spending will go toward engine and assembly plants for the Ranger and Bronco models that will replace the production of slow-selling Focus compact cars, which are moving to Mexico. Another $200 million will go toward a new advanced data center at Ford’s factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, where the company already has said it will add 700 jobs.

The automaker’s announcement was previewed in an early morning tweet from Trump, who two weeks ago urged car companies to follow his pledge for eased regulations with more hiring.

“Big announcement by Ford today,” Trump posted early Tuesday. “Major investment to be made in three Michigan plants. Car companies coming back to U.S. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!”

“We have not paid off all the DOE loans; we’re paying them on the schedule that was originally agreed to with the government,” Hinrichs said. “We think we’ve met all of the conditions of all of those loans and we continue to have those conversations with the government.”

After Trump frequently criticized Ford during his campaign, the relationship turned around when the automaker in January canceled plans to build a $1.6 billion factory in Mexico. Trump now praises Ford and chats regularly with Executive Chairman Bill Ford about trade, regulations and taxes. The automaker was among the companies that cried foul when then-President Barack Obama ended a review of his fuel rules near the end of his administration.

Ford Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields has made several visits to the White House to meet with the president, and investment announcements by automakers have become fodder Trump cites as evidence he’s helping the U.S. economy. For the auto industry, it takes years to bring a car from drawing boards to showrooms, and factory investment decisions are typically made years before they are announced.

“While Ford may gain some advantage in future policy discussions by letting Trump announce things its board decided long ago, the UAW shouldn’t let the president take credit for investments which they in fact negotiated for their members,” said Dan Luria, an independent auto analyst who advised the union during 2015 talks.

Ford shares rose 2.1% to $11.70 at 12:44 p.m. in New York after earlier climbing as much as 3%, the biggest intraday rise in more than two months.