(MONET) — Missouri’s economic development director says there is not a COVID-19 outbreak inside GM’s massive plant in eastern Missouri’s Wentzville.
Missourinet asked state Department of Economic Development (DED) Director Rob Dixon about the issue and the layoffs at the plant, during a Tuesday Capitol media briefing in Jefferson City.
“Those folks that were laid off from that shift, they eliminated a third shift temporarily, is not because of a market condition but it’s because of disruptions in their workforce, due to COVID-19,” Dixon says.
Dixon says the layoffs will be temporary. The “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” reports about 1,200 employees will be impacted. The United Auto Workers (UAW) says 23 plant employees have the coronavirus.
Director Dixon also says the decision by GM to lay off the third shift will not impact the company’s decision to invest about $1.5 billion into the plant.
“We believe that that is going to proceed. This is not connected to that, as I mentioned in particular, and we’ll continue to work with the company,” says Dixon.
Governor Mike Parson emphasized the importance of the Wentzville GM project, during his January State of the State Address. The governor told lawmakers that GM’s decision to invest in the Wentzville plant represents one of the largest single-project investments from the private sector in Missouri.
The governor and Dixon traveled to the plant in December, to announce GM’s investment and plan to retain nearly 4,000 jobs.
The plant produces the GMC Canyon and the Chevrolet Colorado.
Dixon says GM’s Wentzville plant supports about 12,000 jobs across Missouri. DED says out of Missouri’s 227 automotive suppliers, 178 supply GM.
Wentzville, which is known as the “Crossroads of the Nation,” is one of Missouri’s fastest growing cities. It sits on I-70 in St. Charles County.
Its current population is about 42,000. The city’s website notes Wentzville’s population has increased from 6,896 in 2000.