Town Boom Resumes As GM Plant Expands

Production of the Chevy Equinox is slated to begin by September, which will mean nearly 2,400 jobs could be added through next year.

SPRING HILL, Tenn. (AP) — The expansion of a General Motors' auto assembly plant in Spring Hill is breathing new life into the city.

Real estate agent Mindy Hill says the city has the hottest home sales in Middle Tennessee this year.

"I am writing my eighth or ninth offer on a home under $190,000 for one of my buyers, and she keeps losing out to higher offers," Hill told The Tennessean ("Really, anything under $200,000 is going like hotcakes."

Meanwhile, Boyce Magli of Magli Realty Co. says he is fielding calls from companies looking for commercial space.

"I'm getting calls about leasing commercial properties — restaurant locations and retail shops, including national names — that I haven't gotten in two years."

It's a reversal of 2009, when GM stopped making the Chevrolet Traverse SUV at the plant and laid off 2,000 workers.

Production of the Chevrolet Equinox is slated to begin by September and other projects will follow which will mean nearly 2,400 jobs could be added through next year.

Magli said the promise of addition jobs means more homes and that leads to a demand for more retailers and restaurants in the area.

"I'm excited about Spring Hill's prospects over the next 12 months," he said.

Mike Herron, the United Auto Workers shop chairman for Local 1853, which represents hourly workers at the plant, says there's around 1,200 workers currently at the plant compared to a low of 600 in late 2009.

He said some were hired for the engine plant expansion and some are making parts and components for vehicles at other GM factories.

"When Traverse production ended, we essentially switched to being a supplier plant, rather than an assembly facility," Herron said. "Now, we're on time and tracking perfectly for a third-quarter launch of the new engine, and the startup of Equinox production is on schedule for September, although preproduction builds probably will start before that."

Local officials are also celebrating.

"It's all good news here now," said Spring Hill Mayor Michael Dinwiddie. "The mood has improved substantially now that we know the assembly line is about to start up again.

"We're seeing more construction around town and more plans for residential developments submitted to our planning commission. It's a lot more positive around here than it was two years ago."

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