Commentary: Three Months and Done

Today, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Ford will close St. Paul's Twin Cities Assembly Plant on December 19.

This is not exactly the news we wanted to hear, considering that the economy has veered itself slightly off the recovery track. The loss of 800 jobs to Minnesota's economy may seem like a drop in the bucket, but it is not. Not after the budget mess this state endured this summer.

It would be easy to blame Alan Mullaly, Bill Ford and the executives at Dearborn. But that would not be the right course to take. The plant was a consequence was a larger picture that requires a lot of examination and understanding to parse out at this point. That would require an explanation of global market shifts, domestic market shifts, product development discussions pertaining to certain markets and segments as well as the economy of supply chain in the manufacturing sector in relation to geography.

This is not the automotive industry that could produce a single model line locally for rapid distribution as the Twin Cities Assembly Plant was originally conceived 86 years ago.

Could the state government have prevented this? Considering how Minnesota had been governed under Tim Pawlenty until this January and the way this legislature's majority operated with an agenda to shove down its citizen's throats, it was doubtful they would have worked with Ford to find an equitable solution.

Besides, I'll bet you someone at Dearborn was watching the proceedings leading up to July's Minnesota state shutdown and turned to Mullaly: "Just say when, sir?"

Today was a sad occasion. While 800 employees, most of them members of the United Auto Workers Local 879, shed tears over the endgame of the Twin Cities Assembly Plant, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman had his own lament to deliver. He thanked Ford and the workers who served the Highland Park neighborhood on the Mississippi River for the past 86 years. He wished, as I and many of us in the automotive community, that the plant would remain with new product for manufacture.

Now, it'll be done. A ghost town before Christmas.

There's 122 acres that will be up for grabs on Ford Parkway in the southwest portion of St. Paul. All I ask Mulally, Ford and the team at Dearborn is one small favor: Don't sell it to Zygi Wilf!

If nothing else, I'd simply wanted to join the chorus and thank the Ford Motor Company for 86 years of building automobiles in the Twin Cities. My best to the workers at Highland Park. We will all remember this place.

Photo by Randy Stern

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