Again and again during his time in office, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon returned to Magna Seating, an automotive parts manufacturer in Excelsior Springs.
“Well, this is a plant that’s taken a hit and kept on ticking,” Nixon said Friday during his statewide farewell tour. “It’s bigger and stronger than it was before.”
Nixon says the first time he visited the plant, workers were still making seats for the Ford Escape. But by 2012, Ford had shifted production of the Escape to Louisville, and Magna Seating was close to shutting down.
The plant manager told Nixon all he needed was a customer – and when the governor returned in 2015, Magna Seating was in full production, making seating for the Ford Transit van.
“That’s one reason why we leaned forward so far for the Fords and the GMs because there’s so much more economic turnaround that comes along with those lines,” Nixon said, who leaves office Monday after two terms.
One of his proudest accomplishments was when the Manufacturing Jobs Act passed in 2010. He says more than 60 small automotive parts manufacturers have expanded in the state as a result of deals cut with Ford and General Motors.
Though Nixon is planning a return to private life after Monday, he says he won’t be afraid to speak out if he thinks the state is headed in the wrong direction. It’s likely Missouri lawmakers will again this session pursue so-called “right to work” legislation, which Nixon has adamantly opposed for its potential to hurt union auto workers.
Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.