In the late 1940s, the Ford Motor Company decided to expand its engine production facilities. Ford intended to build more manufacturing plants outside of the Detroit area, with this project calling for a new engine plant and foundry. Five states and hundreds of communities attempted to attract the project. In the end, Ford decided that a 204 acre site in the Village of Brook Park, Ohio would be the ideal place. The site lies along the main line of the New York Central Railroad which certainly made it attractive. The clinching argument, however, was that the nearby city of Cleveland was a port city on the Great Lakes, making it even more convenient to import raw materials into the plant and sending finished products out of it.
Therefore, In 1951, Ford built the Cleveland Engine plant, which was the first Ford engine plant in Ohio. The plant was the center of production for Ford's first overhead valve engine, the Lincoln V8. The engine foundry opened in 1952 to produce cast iron engine blocks. Also, in 1955, Ford built Engine Plant 2 on the site. Plant 2 was opened to produce the Y-block V8 for the Ford Thunderbird. Indeed, the plants have produced a wide variety of V6 and V8 engines throughout the years. The engines were used in cars, including everything from the Edsel to the Mustang, and in trucks like the F-100 and the F-150. By 1955, the Brook Park facility was the second largest Ford complex in the world behind only the River Rouge complex in Dearborn, Michigan. Over 34 million engines have been built in Brook Park since 1951.
The plant has gone through a variety of changes in the nearly 60 years it has been in operation. During the 1960s the plant employed over 15,000 workers. Of that number, more than 10,000 worked in the casting plant's foundry. Yet, markets, economies, and techniques change, and the foundry closed in October 2010, leading to the loss of a number of jobs. The plant was no longer needed since most of Ford's engine blocks are now made of aluminum. The few iron engine blocks that Ford currently uses are produced by a company in Mexico.
Also, Engine Plant 1 was idled in 2007 and for a time employed only 72 workers. After a $350 million investment by Ford in 2009, the plant rebounded and employment numbers rose. In 2011, the plant was producing about 900 engines per day during its two shifts. However, in 2012 Engine Plant 2 shut down, leaving Engine Plant 1, with some 1,600 workers, as the only operational facility. The second plant site was more recently redeveloped as Forward Innovation Center, offering speculative facilities to lure new industry.