Local business owner happy with AM General announcement

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – Big news for Mishawaka. AM General announced Tuesday that automaker, Mercedes Benz, is moving in. The company says the luxury car brand will turn the space into a “world class” assembly plant.

This move is going to have a major impact on local businesses, too.

Larry Wolfe, the owner of the Blue Lantern on McKinley Avenue, says this announcement is something he's been waiting for.

Wolfe and his family have been in business for over 50 years.

“My wife and I don't move much,” says the 73-year-old business owner.

Wolfe says over the years, AM General workers were his best customers during the lunch hour.

But then, things started to change. “Then they moved the corporate office downtown so we lost business there. So now we don't open until 2:30 pm,” says Wolfe.

Fewer and fewer people started coming in so Wolfe scratched lunch all together.

So, when AM General announced Tuesday that Mercedes Benz picked the McKinley Avenue location to manufacture it's “R-Class” luxury vehicle, bringing hundreds of new jobs to his community, Wolfe was delighted.

“It's going to be exciting,” says Wolfe.

He says, this could mean the lunch wave at Blue Lantern might start to fill back up.

AM General says, production of the Mercedes Benz SUV should start sometime this Summer.

Here is the full release from the company:

AM General LLC and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc., today announced that Mercedes-Benz has selected AM General to manufacture the Mercedes-Benz R-Class luxury vehicle at AM General's world-class 675,000 square-foot Commercial Assembly Plant. Because of increasing demand for its Sport Utility Vehicles and the need for greater production capacity in the U.S., Mercedes-Benz is moving production of the R-Class from its Tuscaloosa, Ala. plant to AM General's Commercial Assembly Plant in Mishawaka, Ind. 

Under the multi-year agreement, AM General becomes Mercedes-Benz's first and only contract manufacturing operator in the U.S. AM General anticipates R-Class vehicles will start rolling off its production lines this summer and will hire and train hundreds of new workers in order to prepare for R-class production.

"AM General is pleased to have been selected by Mercedes-Benz to build this vehicle at our world-class commercial vehicle facility in Mishawaka. We look forward to a long term relationship with Mercedes and expanding our services to the U.S. and global auto industry," said Charlie Hall, President and CEO of AM General.

AM General's Commercial Assembly Plant is a full service manufacturing and support facility that utilizes state-of-the-art robotic welding, painting and assembly techniques coupled with a lean manufacturing culture and highly skilled workforce to meet the requirements of its customers.

"This is yet another example of AM General's deep and growing commitment to the cities of Mishawaka and South Bend, the State of Indiana and our highly skilled, hardworking employees," Hall added.

In this rapidly growing segment of its business, AM General has extensive experience as an automotive Contract Assembler and Original Equipment Manufacturer. Commercial vehicle contract assembly initiatives include work for General Motors and other Original Equipment Manufacturers.  As an Original Equipment Manufacturer, AM General, through its wholly owned subsidiary Mobility Ventures LLC, designs, produces and supports the new MV-1 -  the world's first purpose-built, universally accessible vehicle which is expanding choice in transportation for families, livery and paratransit fleets.

About AM General
AM General has more than five decades of experience in two separate assembly plants meeting the changing needs of the defense and commercial automotive industries. The Company has produced more than 1.5 million vehicles, supported by its employees at major facilities in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, and a strong supplier base that stretches across 43 states.”
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