Ford, the only U.S. automaker not to take federal bailout money, is leading the way. This morning, the company announced their record third quarter profits.
The company's net income rose 68 percent to $1.7 billion in the third quarter, the company's best third quarter performance since 1990.
Chad Maks, who left to find work in Texas, is back now that Ford is hiring again.
"I think everyone's pretty excited, the mood here is great!" Maks said.
Ford plans to add 1,200 new jobs at seven Michigan plants over the next three years. The job-building is part of a huge new investment by all three Detroit automakers.
"The economy is recovering, but clearly it's a slower recovery than we have had from past recessions....so the most important thing that we do, that all of us are working on is to keep the expansion of this economy growing," Alan Mulally, Chief Executive Officer of Ford, said.
Michigan Tax Breaks For Big Three Automakers
The Michigan Economic Growth Authority is expected to approve tax breaks worth more than $2 billion for the big three automakers, and 13 other companies. The tax incentives kick in only if the automakers keep their promises to hire thousands of more workers.
Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of Edmunds.com said that the tax incentives are a way of convincing auto manufacturers that Michigan is the best, most economical place to make cars.
"The risk is, if they don't offer these incentives, that other states will and these jobs will go elsewhere," Anwyl said.
Along with hiring, the tax breaks will also help retain more than 200,000 jobs in Michigan.
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm says that the investment will help speed up the state's sluggish economic recovery. The unemployment in the state is one of the highest in the nation at 13 percent.
"I'm gratified that we are seeing the tail end of that recession, that we are seeing the auto industry rebound and that's a very good thing," Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm said.
Less than two years after the entire auto industry teetered on the brink, all that taxpayer money, state and federal, has helped it turn the corner.
Ford Reports Record Profits
The bestselling vehicle that helped boost Ford's sales is the F-series pickup truck. The fact that people are driving trucks is an indicator of economic recovery, Mulally said.
"In the United States, people really use their bigger SUVs and pickups for commercial use and business use in addition to their personal lives," Mulally said.
Ford, like GM and Chrysler, shed brands, shut old factories and slashed payrolls so it could make more money selling far fewer cars.
"We were in survival mode, we had a plan to deal with that," Mulally said. "We've come through this horrible recession and we kept investing in the future."
Ford is now investing in the future of thousands of workers like Maks who are on their way back from the brink.
"The economy was crazy, everyone, you know, worried about their livelihood. Today, though look at the profits," Maks said.
Maks and the many workers like him are now confident that they have a Ford in their future.