DETROIT (WJBK) - Monday meant the start of real production for the Ford Ranger inside a new $160 million manufacturing facility in Detroit.
"Do you realize this is the largest investment in an auto plant in the city of Detroit more than 20 years," said Mayor Mike Duggan. "So thank you."
Breaking ground in April of 2017, Flex-N-Gate's new 480,000 square-foot facility is now the centerpiece of the city's once abandoned I-94 industrial park.
"This plant and the benefit it brings to the city of Detroit and its workforce, gives me as much pride as anything I've done in my entire life," said CEO Shad Khan.
Khan says Monday the company has made a strong commitment to hire Detroiters. He says of the 254 employees there half of them, are Detroiters. The company partnered with Detroit at Work to train potential employees for the new positions.
"Now the real work begins to get more people employed," Khan said.
At full capacity, Khan expects up to 700 new jobs here in Detroit over the next three years. Khan says the Focus: Hope program is also providing training with 70 Detroiters who have graduated from the program, are now working at the plant.
The very first Flex-N-Gate Detroit employee Tashar Mosby says he attended the Focus: Hope program in 2011 where he became the youngest certified machinist.
"During that program I caught three buses, I worked a full-time job, I worked a part-time job and was blessed with a daughter along the way," Mosby said.
Manufacturing about 50-percent of the body of the Ford Ranger, Flex-N-Gate Detroit is accepting applications for all positions including hourly and management.
Mosby says that hard work and dedication has paid off.
"Only thing you can do is keep pushing, things can't get any worse, they can only get better," he said. "You feel like you're down, remind yourself, I've got to keep pushing."