Ford, a year ago in danger of being dragged down with a collapse of its nearly bankrupt Detroit rivals, is projected to report nearly $1 billion in first-quarter profits Tuesday, the strongest indication yet that the U.S. auto industry is bouncing back more quickly than expected.
And, as I have said before, as goes Michigan, so goes the country.
The optimism here is palpable:
“A year ago at this time, we were fearful General Motors would fail and take the whole industry down with it,” Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor, told the Free Press on Thursday. “What a difference a year makes.”
David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, said the industry is at the cusp of “a really significant turnaround point,” noting that it came “much faster than I think most people anticipated.”
Folks, this is news Michigan absolutely needs. We lead the country in unemployment. Home foreclosures are as common as wild asparagus along the western back roads and reasons to be hopeful are as rare and precious as the morel mushrooms poking up through the leaves in Michigan forests.
Even our term-limited governor, Jennifer Granholm, a woman with plenty to be dour about, is upbeat:
“We have hit bottom,” Granholm said in a wide-ranging interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley, host of the Sunday morning “State of the Union” show…
“I think there’s a lot more hope in Detroit,” Granholm said. “… Abandoning our cities is certainly not the option. The only thing that separates Detroit and Michigan is a comma.”
But wait. There’s MORE! From another Detroit Free Press report: 88,000 new automotive jobs predicted for this year.
The forecast, from the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor and IHS Global Insight, shows that total automotive employment in the U.S., including automakers and suppliers, will grow from an average of 565,700 this year to 653,600 in 2011 and 742,200 in 2012…Michigan is well positioned geographically and logistically for any new hiring.
Many wanted to give up on the automotive industry. What I see is a sector that got smacked upside the head and is starting to smell the coffee. To see Ford doing so well is gratifying because of all the domestic suppliers, they are the company that has most embraced moving toward affordable, high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles. They declined federal funds and are now moving forward with a strong portfolio and an aggressive approach to vehicle design that reflects a well-thought out vision.
Kudos to Ford.
And good news for the rest of us.
I’m just sayin’…