American Axle expansion plan is welcomed with caution

It’s hard to get too excited about the possible redevelopment of American Axle’s former plant site.
While it’s encouraging that an American company is contemplating expanding, this particular company has left a sour taste for many in Hamtramck.
Over a decade ago, American Axle abruptly announced it was getting rid of its hourly workers and closing down its plant. Operations were instead moved to Mexico, where workers there received a little over $6 an hour.
It was a stab in the back to America, Hamtramck and American workers.
Worse, the company later demolished the plant site, which was partially located on the Hamtramck side of the Detroit border.
That meant a loss of property tax dollars to Hamtramck. It was also seen as a betrayal by city officials, since Hamtramck granted a tax abatement for the company so it could presumably continue to grow its market.
As soon as the abatement period ended, American Axle moved forward on firing its workers and leveling its buildings.
Ever since then, city officials have rightly been reluctant to issue any more tax abatements.
It’s unknown whether American Axle will once again ask for a tax abatement if it does rebuild structures so that the company can jump into EV research.
There are a lot of unknowns so far, but our guess is that the project will go forward, since the company announced several months ago that something big was coming.
We’re hoping the company has enough horse sense not come to city officials with their hands out for a tax break.
That would be a tough one to swallow.
Posted April 21, 2023

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