St. Paul Ford Plant to Close in Dec.; 880 Workers Affected

The automaker has been planning to shutter its St. Paul plant since 2006 and just announced a closure date-December 19.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman on Monday offered his condolences to employees at Ford Motor Company's St. Paul assembly plant following the company's official notice that it will shutter the plant on December 19.

“Ford has impacted the history, character, and livelihood of St. Paul,” he said in a statement. “We are thankful for Ford's contributions to the city and the community involvement of its employees.”

The plant's closure, which marks the end of the company's auto production in Minnesota, will affect about 880 workers, according to the Star Tribune.

Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford reportedly notified workers of the closure date on Monday. The plant-housed on a 125-acre site in St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood-manufactures only the Ranger small pickup, a product that Ford is discontinuing.

Ford announced in 2006 that it planned to close the plant by 2008 but later said it would remain open until the end of 2011. Last year, then-Governor Tim Pawlenty and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman traveled to Michigan in an attempt to persuade Ford officials to keep its St. Paul plant open-but their efforts were unsuccessful.

Coleman said that while he is sad to see the plant's doors close, he is optimistic that the site housing the plant will create new businesses and jobs. “Through our partnership with Ford and a redevelopment framework in place, we will create new uses for this site that are of the greatest benefit to the region,” he added.

According to the Star Tribune, Ford has said that it intends to market the site next year but doesn't have specific redevelopment plans or a date when it will go up for sale. Experts told the Minneapolis newspaper that redevelopment of the site may prove complicated because of contamination issues associated with years of manufacturing and a network of tunnels running underneath the factory grounds.

Earlier this year, a City of St. Paul task force released a sustainable redevelopment agenda for the site. The report-funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control agency-outlined sustainability goals for the site and encouraged a development that fosters a range of living-wage jobs and a variety of businesses.

Ford has been operating the plant at the soon-to-be-shuttered site for more than 80 years.

Employees at the Ford plant had mixed reactions when they received notice of the closure date. To read about their reactions in the Pioneer Press, click here.