GM expected to make Fairfax expansion announcement Monday

Top General Motors and union representatives have scheduled a press conference Monday to announce what Unified Government officials anticipate will be a huge expansion at the Fairfax Assembly Plant.

Last September, the Unified Government Board of Commissioners approved issuing $120 million in revenue bonds at GM’s request to finance a 400,000-square-foot paint shop addition to the Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kan. The assembly plant currently employs about 3,750 people and is the largest private employer in Wyandotte County.

Doug Bach, deputy county administrator for economic development, said he’s optimistic about why the GM executives are coming.

“We’d like to think they’re coming in to make an announcement about that project,” Bach said.

The media alert issued by GM for the Monday event at the Fairfax plant said a top-level gathering is expected.

“Several members of the UAW and GM’s most senior leadership are scheduled to participate, as well as Federal and Local government officials,” the company invitation stated.

At the time the Unified Government board approved the request for $120 million in revenue bonds, they were told it would finance a massive new paint shop at the 3-million-square-foot plant where the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu are assembled.

The revenue bonds were to be used for construction of the new building and did not include how much GM would spend equipping it.

With advanced robotics and other state-of-the-art auto manufacturing technology, that additional investment could be several hundred million dollars.

While the huge new paint shop operation is not expected to lead to significant additional employment at the plant, local government officials saw it is a huge vote of confidence by GM that it will continue manufacturing vehicles there for the foreseeable future.

In 2011, the plant produced 214,000 Malibu’s and 65,000 Lacrosse’s, according to Automobile magazine, making Fairfax the 10th most productive auto plant in the country.