Source: Sherman Publications

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GM hosts open house at Orion Assembly

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

June 29, 2011

With the economic climate improving for them, and their Orion Assembly Plant updates, General Motors decided it was time to show off their changes.

On June 22, the Orion Assembly Plant hosted displays, and other fun activities that related to cars or community. Alongside a surprisingly deep tour of the new facilities - recently retooled to build the small Chevrolet Sonic - models were made available for anyone curious about build and look of the new car.

Alicia Boler-Davis, Plant Manager for Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping, said the turnout exceeded her expectations.

"More than 2,500 people came through for the open house, and I knew we'd have a large crowd, but I didn't think we'd go north of 2,500," said Boler-Davis. "GM has been holding open houses throughout the year as a way to thank the public for their support as we went through the bankruptcy and to show them first hand what happens in our facilities.

"We all know the Orion Plant was one of the plants slated to close, and through support from community, local and state government, we were awarded the small car contract here. We've made lots of changes, and just wanted to show everyone."

Some of those changes include a state of the art paint shop that uses 60 percent less energy than the old shop, a number of safety and energy improvements, and many implements to make the plant a greener facility.

"We have lots of new equipment in our body shop that includes new and reused equipment that is more efficient, along with the latest and greatest technology," said Boler-Davis. "Another implement to go green, as well as save on costs, is we've brought a lot of processes that used to be done outside the plant inside the plant.

"The employees here at Orion are very proud to be building small cars, and they couldn't be more appreciative of the community support."

Other displays included a police dog demonstrations, help on using baby car seats, and peruse booths set up by UAW Local 5960.

As a centerpiece for the event, GM awarded three local charitable organizations - Lighthouse of Oakland County, the Orion and Oxford branch of the Boy's and Girl's Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, and the Clinton River Watershed Council - donations totaling in $21,000.

Orion Township Supervisor JoAnn VanTassel, Hy Safran from the office of Representative Gary Peters, Barbara Mcclanahan from the offices of Senator Debbie Stabenow, and Orion Township Trustee Neal Porter were all present.

The Orion Assembly Plant is one of 54 different manufacturing locations and customer care warehouses offering tours and public access.