Michigan's auto industry could get a boost _ including the possibility of more than 2,000 additional jobs at the Detroit area's biggest carmakers _ from projects assisted with state tax incentives announced Tuesday.
Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Group LLC were among the 16 companies with projects granted tax incentives by a state board.
It's not clear exactly how many new jobs might be created directly at the companies awarded the tax incentives. But the new jobs could top 2,000 with the Detroit-area automakers alone, if all projects _ including some in the early stages _ materialize as planned.
Michigan officials said the incentives could also help retain thousands of jobs overall statewide.
The projects include about $2 billion in potential investment.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm said the investments seal Michigan's status as the center of automotive manufacturing.
"They've obviously gone through a very tough period of time," Granholm said of the automakers. "But with the announcements today ... it certainly signals a hugely positive trend for the auto industry and therefore for Michigan."
The state has been working to stem an erosion of jobs that has lasted for several years. Michigan's unemployment rate for September was 13 percent, the second-highest in the nation behind Nevada. Michigan's jobless rate was 14.4 percent a year ago.
Ford said this week it plans to invest $850 million in several Detroit-area plants to build its new six-speed transmissions and improve facilities. Ford plans to hire about 1,200 workers.
On Tuesday, the state awarded Ford a tax credit valued at $909 million over 15 years that also would help retain thousands of jobs. The new credit replaces three credits that previously were awarded to Ford.
Chrysler was awarded a state tax credit valued at $1.3 billion over 20 years for investments in its Sterling Heights Assembly plant and a Dundee engine factory, saving thousands of jobs that would have been lost if the assembly plant had closed. Chrysler's investment is expected to be about $1 billion.
Chrysler had announced the Sterling Heights plant would be spared from closure this summer.
General Motors could add up to 900 jobs with a $112 million investment at the Warren Technical Center, dependent upon the development of a successful business case, state officials said. GM expects to invest roughly $40 million, saving about 150 jobs, at a Brownstown battery pack facility. The state amended a tax credit already awarded to General Motors to cover these projects, although details were not immediately available.