New Cherokee could mean thousands of jobs - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

New Cherokee could mean thousands of jobs

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Wednesday's introduction of the new Cherokee, Ltd will eventually mean worldwide sales of the Toledo-made product and that will have an impact on local job numbers.

Automotive production creates jobs by attracting auto suppliers close to the production site. and by exporting the vehicles to markets around the world.

The Toledo-built 2014 Jeep Cherokee Ltd. could attract new auto supplier business and thousands of new jobs to the area.

The Toledo-built 2014 Jeep Cherokee Ltd. could attract new auto supplier business and thousands of new jobs to the area.

Four years ago, many auto analysts had written off Chrysler for dead.  The American automotive industry itself was crashing
but Fiat's engineering expertise, and the auto bailout, may have made new vehicles like the Cherokee possible.

Buzz by workers on the production floor was about the new life Chrysler seems to have built.  Dan Henneman, head of UAW Local 12 told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann, "To think, in 2009, we were closing the doors at the factory, laying people off and trying to struggle through a bankruptcy so we came a long way in a short time."

Cherokee production will mean 1,100 new hires with two shifts working 9-hour days by October.

Fiat's commitment to Toledo with it's investment of a $500 million expansion to the plant and the guarantee to never build the iconic Wrangler anywhere but Toledo, is seen by the auto industry as an indication of opportunity.

In the next five years, the two Toledo complexes could be the largest assembly plant in all of North America when you factor in the 250-thousand Wranglers produced from one plant and the 300-thousand vehicles, including the Cherokee, produced from the other."

The expectation is this mid-sized Cherokee will dominate the market and dictate a local economic boom.

Bruce Baumhower, the president of UAW Local 12 is convinced the Cherokee is winner for the region.  "The higher our volumes get the more opportunity we have to recruit other companies to come here," he told 13abc.

In April, an auto-related industrial company will announce it's moving into the old Jeep plant site and other companies– and hundreds of jobs– will follow.

Suppliers that do not locate in Toledo will have to ship Cherokee parts to Toledo which could mean thousands more intermodal jobs.

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority sees the Cherokee has a vital link between Toledo and the world.  President Paul Toth said, "It's part of globalization moving products in, manufacturing here and then shipping that finished product."

The Toledo-built Cherokee will be exported to 150-countries.

But it's the import of jobs that could make the Cherokee a driving force in Toledo's economy.

Proto-types of the Cherokee are already being made at the plant.  The real cars will roll off the lines starting in May.

Toledo could feel the economic benefits for decades.

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