The economic recession hit the Dayton, Ohio, area hard, especially Tonya Adams and her fellow workers at the General Motors factory.
When the plant was home to 5,000 workers and turning out trucks, people called Dayton “Little Detroit”. In 2008, the last truck came off the assembly line. The lights were turned off just before Christmas. Tonya had worked there for 20 years; her husband for 15.
She said that it was “devastating” for her to even drive on Hoyle Place, the road next to factory.
She was out of work for eight months before finding a position at a law firm, and that was “relatively quick compared to some people. Many lost homes,” she said.
Adams could never imagine that nearly a decade later she would be working again at that GM factory. But this time there would be more robots, along with better benefits and a new name for the street and the factory: Fuyao Avenue and Fuyao Glass America.
Adams is a supervisor of document controls at Fuyao Glass America, where nearly 2,000 local workers are employed, some of whom had been unemployed for a lengthy time or underemployed.
While it has been said that the US is bleeding manufacturing jobs to overseas companies now based in the US, particularly to companies from China, Fuyao Glass Industry Group is doing the opposite. The largest auto-glass maker in China bought the abandoned GM factory in 2014 and invested $600 million. It’s the largest Chinese investment in Ohio’s history and eighth-largest direct foreign investment in the US over the last decade.
Until two years ago, the 1.6 million-square-foot GM plant was dark and empty, except for a few raccoons. Today, the Dayton factory has been making windshields, backlights and sidelights for Chevy Silverado pickups, the Hyundai Sonata, BMW X5, Ford F150 pickup, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda…