DaimlerChrysler to invest $1 billion in suburban St. Louis plants
FENTON, Mo. – DaimlerChrysler AG said Monday it will invest up to $1 billion in its suburban St. Louis auto plants.The investment will pay for modernization and retooling of the factories. The upgrades will begin next year.DaimlerChrysler makes Dodge Ram pickups and Chrysler and Dodge minivans at its plants in Fenton in southwest St. Louis County. The North and South assembly plants employ 5,500.The announcement comes after Gov. Matt Blunt’s office finalized an incentive package with the company’s Chrysler division to secure the new investment.”I am pleased that Chrysler Group has recognized the importance of Missouri’s contributions to the auto industry and the quality of our work force,” Blunt said. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with our partners at Chrysler Group for many years to come.”The city of Fenton approved a tax abatement in October that would save the automaker $24 million over 14 years, if an initial $531 million investment is made. The company could get another $22 million in tax breaks from 2010 to 2020 if another $500 million is spent on the plants.The automobile industry in Missouri employs about 36,500 people, Blunt’s office said. The average autoworker here earns $53,117, while the average Missourian earns $34,855. Missouri ranks sixth in employment related to the auto industry.In the St. Louis area, Ford Motor Co. makes sport utility vehicles in Hazelwood, Mo., and General Motors makes vans in Wentzville, Mo.