Flint Buys Back GM’s Love With Tax Breaks for Volt Plant

Pop quiz: Monday was a good day if you were (A) General Motors; (B) planning on buying the Chevy Volt; (C) an unemployed resident of Flint, Mich., or (D) all of the above? You know the answer. Yesterday, GM received millions in promised tax breaks to help build a new $359 million, 530,000-square-foot engine plant for the Chevy Volt, the most highly anticipated green car this side of the Tesla.

The plant will assemble the 1.4 liter turbo four-banger that will be used in the Volt as well as in Chevy’s new Cruze compact. The new engine works will be built near Flint Engine South and Flint Truck plants and create 300 jobs. GM is to begin production in 2010, with Volt assembly set for GM’s storied Hamtramck (Mich.) plant just 65 miles away. GM is also seeking additional tax breaks from the state of Michigan for Volt production, and Congress is considering tax incentives that would defray purchase costs of the Volt.

The news was welcomed, if not whole-heartedly, by Flint Councilman Jim Ananich: “A lot of people still feel…General Motors owes us more than just a couple hundred jobs,” he told the Detroit News. “I understand what people feel — I still sometimes have those feelings — but as competitive as the market is and the trouble General Motors is having, we have to help them with whatever we can do to keep them competitive.”

Flint used to be GM’s go-to city back in the day. “Without Flint, GM would have to shut down,” or so the saying went, but by the mid ’90s, the city of Flint looked like a set for the next RoboCop sequel. Remember, Flint, Mich., was the city featured in Michael Moore’s “Roger & Me.” So, 300 jobs are a drop in the bucket compared to the tens of thousands that used be there, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Re-tooling idled plants that are scattered throughout the Midwest to manufacture greener cars like the Volt seems like an obvious idea; we’re glad to see GM’s at least building in the neighborhood.

GM will unveil the Volt at either the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November or the Detroit Auto Show in January.