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Press Releases

Haslam Announces $185M Expansion of Spring Hill GM Complex

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 27, 2014:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with General Motors officials announced today the company will invest $185 million to make small gas engines at its Spring Hill manufacturing complex. GM also identified the next-generation Cadillac SRX as a future mid-size vehicle to be produced at Spring Hill.

“We want to congratulate GM on this important investment in its future in Spring Hill and Middle Tennessee,” Haslam said. “Today’s announcement speaks volumes around the country and world about our state’s business-friendly climate and strengths in automotive manufacturing, bringing us another step closer to our goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Today’s announcement demonstrates how globally competitive Tennessee is in automotive production and underscores the tremendous momentum our state possesses in the automotive sector,” Hagerty said. “The quality craftsmanship and artisan strength of our workforce has proven time and again that Tennessee is the best place to invest and grow.”

The investment supports GM’s new small displacement engine, which is part of an all-new Ecotec engine family that will be used by five GM brands in 27 models by the 2017 model year, powering many of the company’s high-volume small car and compact-crossover vehicles.

Spring Hill is among six manufacturing locations around the globe that will produce the new engine, and an additional $48.4 million investment is planned for the Bedford, Indiana powertrain castings plant.

“The new Ecotec engine family represents the most advanced and efficient small displacement gasoline engines in GM’s history,” Arvin Jones, GM North America manufacturing manager, said. “It was a good business decision to produce this powertrain in Spring Hill and Bedford. Both teams have strong performance records, especially in quality.”

The new Ecotec portfolio includes 11 engines with three- and four-cylinder variants ranging from 1.0L to 1.5L – including turbocharged versions – and power ratings ranging from 75 horsepower (56 kW) to 165 horsepower (123 kW), and torque ranging from 70 lb-ft (95 Nm) to 184 lb-ft (250 Nm).

GM Spring Hill currently manufactures the award-winning Ecotec 2.0L turbocharged direct injection 4-cylinder engine, the Ecotec 2.4L direct injection 4-cylinder engine and Ecotec 2.5L direct injection engine, which powers the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu and Chevrolet Impala.

The naming of the Cadillac SRX program follows GM’s previously announced $350 million investment in Spring Hill for two future mid-size vehicles expected to create or retain approximately 1,800 jobs.

Categories
Featured Tax and Budget

About Half a Billion in Gov’t Bacon ID’d by Beacon

In Tennessee, taxpayer money has been used to dabble in the movie-making business, prop up car companies, and promote country music heritage — in Virginia.

Such projects are cataloged in a new Pork Report tracking $468 million in waste and public malfeasance in the past year, $216 million worth of loin, butt and chops at the state level, the Center says.

Authored by the Nashville-based Beacon Center, the report identified more than $182 million in what the center calls “corporate welfare.” Furthermore, “politicians went hog wild” spending the citizenry’s resources on what Beacon Center president Justin Owen described as “taxpayer-funded tourist traps,” including a country music museum in Virginia and a planned water-and-snow theme park in Nashville.

“Many times politicians try to convince us that somehow their visions are grander and more wonderful,” said Ben Cunningham, a Tea Party leader and spokesman for Tennessee Tax Revolt who Tuesday joined Owen at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “Sometimes they even try to convince us that they are a cut above — morally and intellectually above the rest of us — and that their grand, good intentions are somehow grander and more wonderful than the good intentions of the citizenry.

“But in fact, they’re ordinary human beings just like you and I, and they have to be held to the same standards that everybody else is held to.”

This is the seventh year the Beacon Center, formerly known as the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, has published the Pork Report. TCPR was founded in 2004 by Johnson City-native Drew Johnson, who next month will succeed 70-year veteran Tennessee newspaperman Lee Anderson as an opinion page editor for the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.

State spending Beacon’s 2012 Pork Report identified as wasteful included:

  • $2 million in film incentives in 2012.
  • $1.5 million in economic incentives for GM to expand its plant in Spring Hill.
  • $266,200 to Volkswagen to put a sign, only visible from the air, atop its plant in Chattanooga.
  • $500,000 for a planned country music museum in Bristol on the Virginia side of the state line adjacent to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s district.
  • $88.7 million for pre-kindergarten, which has “repeatedly failed to have a significant lasting impact on the education of Tennessee’s children.”

“This year state and local governments didn’t hold back when spending taxpayers’ money,” said Owen.

Political responsibility for much of the iffy spending and sketchy programs pegged in the report can be assigned to fiscally conservative-talking Republicans, who run state government and are not expected to lose their grip on power in this year’s legislative elections.

“Republicans spend just like Democrats do,” Owen said. “And when you’re spending someone else’s money, you have an incentive to spend it unwisely.”

Although the report points to spending made on Gov. Bill Haslam’s watch, the governor contends his administration is already on top of cutting out pork spending.

“I can promise you that government waste has got our full attention. Now, waste is obviously defined different ways by different folks,” Haslam told reporters Tuesday after defending spending on Pre-K, economic development and tourism.

“One of the value judgements you make every year in the budget is, what are you going to fund out of a lot of potential good things and what are you going to cut out of several things that people have an opinion about whether that’s critical or just nice to have.”

The Center thinks much remains in the latter category and says the state should adopt a law to return excess revenues to taxpayers and set up a state spending commission to root out waste.

The Center advocates strengthening a 1978 state constitutional provision meant to rein in growth. If the state is considering spending that exceeds the growth rate in personal income, lawmakers are required to take a separate vote on the amount beyond that cap. The Center says this vote should require a two-thirds approval, rather than the current majority, and that the measure of personal income growth should be replaced by a figure based on population growth plus inflation.