Hybrid maker gives lift to state


A recent announcement that Fisker Automotive of California was buying the former General Motors plant in Wilmington to develop plug-in hybrid electric cars should bring a collective round of applause from those who live in Delaware.

The company announced on Tuesday that it hopes to begin production in late 2012 and employ roughly 2,000 people by 2014. As the state has seen jobs dwindle away during this rough economy (reports have stated that about 1,400 people worked in the Wilmington GM plant as recently as a year-and-a-half ago, alone), and government officials have put a higher premium on green-based initiatives, this would appear to be win-win for all.

Jobs plus better environment equals victory.

Fisker recently was approved for more than $500 million in government loans to develop the cars, and company officials said they plan to put about $175 million into modifying the plant before it re-opens. That is a significant investment, even with the government aid, and should signal that Fisker is indeed in this project for the long haul.

Does this take away the sting for those who worked in the GM plant? Probably not. For one thing, those years vested at GM probably won’t transfer to Fisker. Also, there is no guarantee that Fisker will simply build its workforce by bringing back everyone who worked at the GM plant.

However, in real figures, this means more jobs.

Officials from Fisker did not say if it would give the jobs to those represented by United Auto Workers (UAW), as the employees at the former GM plant were, but said they are going to start with that premise.

“We want the best-skilled workers we can get to build a quality car for the world,” said Fisker spokesman Russell Datz, as published in The (Baltimore) Sun. “We certainly intend to work with the UAW, but we’re not that far along yet deciding which jobs will come back.”

For a state with a governor who’s been doing everything he can to stimulate the economy (gambling efforts, partnerships with mortgage lenders, etc.) and promote environmental accountability, this would seem to be a win-win endeavor.