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Ford Will Invest Millions in Louisville

Thursday July 24, 2008

Ford will invest millions of dollars to retool its two Louisville assembly plants, a central part of the company’s aggressive restructuring plan and a key to the company’s future, Gov. Steve Beshear and Mayor Jerry Ford logoAbramson announced today.

Ford will manufacture a new, fuel-efficient car for the U.S. market at the revamped Louisville Assembly Plant by 2011, and the company will move production of the Navigator and Expedition to the Kentucky Truck Plant, starting in the first quarter of 2009.

While Ford has not finalized the level of new investment in Louisville, Beshear and Abramson said it will be in the hundreds of millions. The company will invest $100 million in the Kentucky Truck Plant. The restructured assembly plant will also see a significant investment, reflecting the installation of a globally-competitive flexible body shop.

“Ford has a bright future in Louisville and today’s announcement is big news for the entire state,” Beshear said following a meeting and conference call with Ford executives at Metro Hall this morning.

Abramson, who attended the meeting along with Ford and union leaders, said he expects additional long-term investments in the plants, proving that Ford is staking its future in Louisville.

“This is a major turnaround for Louisville, considering that Ford announced the Louisville Assembly Plant was slated for closure,” Abramson said. “It’s taken a lot of hard work by Ford’s leadership, its workforce, the Commonwealth and the City, but this century-old partnership has once again saved jobs and brought new investment to Louisville.”

Ford officials have not yet disclosed what new car will be manufactured at the Louisville Assembly Plant, but in the conference call said it would be small and fuel-efficient to react to the public’s demand for efficient cars. The retooling is slated for 2010.

Ford announced today that it will continue to reduce its global workforce and close additional plants while also bringing new vehicles to the U.S. market.

Louisville was able to save jobs and get a new vehicle for three main reasons, Ford officials said.

The city and state were aggressive in responding to Ford’s needs by creating financial incentives to make the truck and assembly plant flexible to accommodate new vehicles.

“Just as Ford has moved quickly to react to the market, so too did the city and state move quickly to react to Ford,” Beshear said.

Abramson, Beshear, Kentucky Economic Development Secretary John Hindman and GLI President Joe Reagan flew to Michigan in early April to meet with Ford executives to convince them that Louisville should be part of the company’s future. Ford has been meeting with Louisville and Kentucky officials each month since then on an incentive package that will be finalized in the coming weeks.

The leaders of the Louisville plants were also instrumental in keeping the factories open, as were the union and workers who were willing to work with management to save jobs.

“We convinced Ford that the best place for their business is in Louisville,” Reagan said. “It’s a smart business decision for Ford and fantastic news for the region.”

Abramson said the assembly and truck plants offer flexibility that will serve Ford well into the future. In the past two years, Ford has invested $200 million in the truck plant, allowing it to quickly take over production of the Navigator and Expedition.

“Ford is being aggressive to meet customer demands – and we are being aggressive in keeping Ford as part of our community,” Abramson said.