Ford Motor Company's abrupt decision to scrap a planned car plant in central Mexico is raising concerns about the region's future economic viability. Nathan Frandino reports.
Welcome to San Luis Potosi... home to the Ford plant that never was. What workers remain are now charged with taking apart the plant and packing up. Contractor Fernando Rosales says everything changed when Ford decided to scrap its plans for a $1.6 billion car plant. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FERNANDO ROSALES, A HYDRAULIC HOSES CONTRACTOR, SAYING: "Now you can see that the equipment, power generators, heavy machinery are leaving and there is nobody working here. This was normally a cloud of earth but today it is completely calm." Ford had been planning to build small cars in Mexico to reduce labor costs. But it stopped due to what it said was a decline in North American demand. Their decision comes as President-elect Donald Trump threatens to impose new taxes on Mexican-made autos. At a rare news conference Wednesday, Trump congratulated Ford on the decision. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP SAYING: "Ford just announced that they stopped plans for a billion dollar plant in Mexico, and they're going to be moving into Michigan, and expanding very substantially, and existing plans. I appreciate that from Ford." But back in Mexico, concerns are rumbling. The plant was expected to create thousands of jobs for the town of Villa de Reyes. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) VILLA DE REYES RESIDENT, LUIS GONZALEZ, SAYING: "I have an uncle who was going to work at Ford. He left his other job to get in there and now he was left jobless." Industry experts now calculate the loss to the economy could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Villa de Reyes Town Hall Secretary Luis Miguel Espinoza regrets Ford's move. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LUIS MIGUEL ESPINOZA, SECRETARY OF THE TOWN HALL OF VILLA REYES, WHERE THE FORD PLANT WAS GOING TO BE BUILT, SAYING: "Because of problems or aspects which don't involve the municipality, the city hall and the state government, well things didn't turn out as expected." A reality that Mexico must now face as Trump prepares to get in the driver's seat of the U.S.