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August 17, 2010 VP Biden to visit Chrysler supplier park in Toledo Monday | | The Detroit News

Biden to visit Chrysler supplier park in Toledo Monday

Washington -- Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Toledo on Monday to visit the Chrysler Group LLC's Toledo Supplier Park, The Detroit News has learned.

The White House declined to discuss Biden's plans for his visit, except to say he would talk about the economy.

The $1 billion, 1.5-million-square-foot supplier park opened in 2005 and supplies the Jeep Wrangler, which is assembled there. It has about 1,700 employees.

The Obama administration in recent weeks has been touting the importance of the auto industry and the decision to save at least 1.1 million jobs by agreeing to add $60 billion to the auto industry bailout.

President Barack Obama visited Chrysler and General Motors Co. assembly plants in Detroit last month.

Biden's visit will spotlight the critical importance of the supplier industry, which employs nearly twice as many people as the automakers.

Auto suppliers have been hard hit during the economic downturn, shedding more than 100,000 jobs over the last three years. More than 50 suppliers filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

Over the last 12 months, however, the auto industry has added 42,000 jobs and fewer suppliers have filed for bankruptcy this year.

Most of that job growth has come from suppliers. GM said last week it had added just 2,000 hourly jobs in the six months ending June 30.

Michigan has about 2,500 auto suppliers, the most of any state.

Automotive suppliers are the largest manufacturing employer in eight states: Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The Chrysler Supplier park plant was built in 1942. In 1981, it was converted by American Motors Corp. to vehicle production to build Jeep Grand Wagoneer until the summer of 1991.

In 2005, the Toledo Supplier Park was built to include body, paint and chassis operations in partnership with KUKA Systems Corp. North America, Magna International Inc. and Hyundai-owned Ohio Module Manufacturing Co., respectively, in new buildings on the same site as Toledo North Assembly with Chrysler handling the final assembly of all three major components.

The 112-acre Toledo Supplier Park was the first North American auto plant to have three major vehicle-building operations run and managed by suppliers. It's similar in operation to a Smart-vehicle assembly plant in France.

The body shop is operated by KUKA, the paint shop by Magna and chassis assembly by OMMC.

The Chrysler Group has the responsibility of final trim and assembly operations of the product.

University of Toledo researchers said in a paper that the joint venture was innovative because it reduced the amount of money that Chrysler had to invest. Chrysler was able to reduce the amount of time necessary to assemble a Wrangler as a result.

Chrysler also builds the Jeep Liberty at its Toledo North plant at the complex.
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