By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
CLAYCOMO, MO (KCTV) -
The new Ford Transit came off the assembly line in Claycomo on Wednesday morning, but it's more than just a van to those who build it.
"I have two sons in college and I'm able to keep them in college," said Michael Benson, a 26-year employee of the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant.
He said the most exciting thing about the new Transit is all the new employees that come with it.
"All the new faces. It's wonderful, the new hires, a young work group," Benson said.
It's the same story for Andre Singleton. He's been at the plant for 28 years and said the revitalization of it helps more than just employees. With more than 20 area contractors, it helps the community.
"It means a lot to our families as well as other generations," Singleton said.
Transit No. 1 rolled off the assembly line Wednesday morning. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said the jobs created by the hot seller will help boost a Kansas City economy that's growing.
"When I came in, we were closing plants, and now we're opening them again," Nixon said.
Things had previously seemed unsettling for the plant when they announced they'd no longer be making the Escape three years ago. But the worldwide demand for the new flex-fuel E-85 series van means workers can sleep a little easier at night.
"It's just a happy day for Kansas City and future generations," said Chuck Light, a 28-year employee at the plant. "These jobs provide me and my family to live well, to enjoy life. It's a sure job for us."
The Ford plant employs more than 4,900 workers and that's a number that has already grown by 2,000 since 2011 and could go up more if the new Ford Transit has good sales.
Ford invested $1.1 billion on the plant in 2011 to convert it from the Ford Escape to the new Ford Transit. The Transit was previously made overseas and it's being built in the United States for the first time at the Claycomo plant.
The Ford Transit is primarily a commercial vehicle that's sold around the world, specifically on six continents. It costs about $29,000.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:00 PM EDT2014-07-23 02:00:37 GMT
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