Janesville41.1°

Residents sad, scared and surprised

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Gazette Staff
June 3, 2008
— Some people have expected this announcement for years.

Others were surprised to hear it.


General Motors announced this morning it would be shutting the doors of the Janesville plant in December 2010 or earlier if market conditions don’t improve.


Earlier this year, before GM announced it would eliminate one shift at the plant.


The Janesville Gazette this morning talked to diners and shoppers around town.


“For 40 years I’ve heard that rumor. I hate to see it happen to this town. There are too many young people that need good-paying jobs. Some people would love to see it shut down because they’re so jealous. But there are too many families who depend on those jobs. One thing after another is slowing down and shutting. The city council needs to pay attention to where we’re spending.”—Ron Syverson, retired from Janesville GM plant in 1993


“It’s not just the plant that’s affected. There’s the trickle-down that affects everybody.”—Fern Syverson, Janesville


“It’s certainly going to be a challenge, first for all the factory employees. It will ripple through the community. But Janesville has a more diverse economy that it had 10 years ago if this had happened. Beloit lost its manufacturing base several years ago, and it has survived and thrived. Janesville has the will and the resources to do the same.”—Jim Alverson, owner of Home Again Consignment, 215 W. Milwaukee St., Janesville


“I don’t think GM runs this town. Everybody thinks it does, but that’s not true. We’re busy as heck, right now, even though housing starts are down. We’re busy as heck, working 10- or 12-hour days, six days a week. I think it’s going to be fine.”—Bob Begolke, Janesville, employed at Boonz Plastering, Edgerton.


“I have lots of friends that work there, but I haven’t heard much talk about it. This comes as a surprise to me. This is going to definitely impact the community. Property values are going to go down. A lot of other businesses are going to be affected. People are going to have to relocate. That’s a lot of jobs to absorb. It’s going to touch a lot of people’s lives."—Mark Kant, Janesville, owner of a furniture and millwork business in Footville.


“This is going to have a huge impact. It’s going to impact a lot of different manufacturers. The whole community.”—Chris Sommers, Janesville


“It obviously won’t have a positive effect. It’s kind of a scary thing. But you could see the writing on the wall for a couple of years. You cross your fingers and hope something can fill that void.”—Jason Richards, Janesville, employee and TDS Telecom, Madison


“Janesville’s going to go down the tubes. It’s going to affect the whole community.” —Deb Cronin, Janesville


“It’s never a good thing. I look at it as, ‘Such is life.’ Things are going to go that way one way or another with big vehicles … This plant is owned, how can they just close it down and walk away? … Call it ignorantly optimistic, but I just don’t see them walking away from a building, otherwise they have a bigger issue with the chemicals in the ground with that building and what they’re going to do with it.” —Peter McMahon, Janesville


“It’s pretty sad. It don’t look good down there. … There’s a lot of people in tough situations down there. … (The plant) has too many negatives going against them. I hate to say that. It just built up over the years.


“As far as the city goes, it might not be as bad as 20 years ago, when we had a hard time here. This town was run more by GM back then. I just think there’s a lot more different things going on now. It will slow it down for a while, but I think it will pick up again. They’ll adjust around here. I don’t think this town will just shut down.” —Joe Coulter, Janesville, who took the buyout two years ago after 30 years at GM


“I’d love to see them get a product in town … I just cross my fingers for the (plant) to get a new product, maybe an electric car.”—Brian Schultz, Janesville, a GM retiree


“I believe it’s going to affect Janesville. Not as bad as it would have 15 years ago. We’ve got a lot of economic diversity. It’s definitely going to affect us—the trickle-down effect—all the rest of the companies that supply parts to General Motors. It’s going to be a shock for the summertime, but I believe Janesville’s strong enough and has enough growth. It’ll get through it, a lot better than a lot of other cities have.” —Tom Lemmer, Janesville


“I kind of half expected it for some time. It’s not surprising. It’s not going to be good for (the community) at all. I think they’ll make it through all right. It’s just the idea that it’s really, really going to hurt because there’s an awful lot of people there.” —Norman Phillips, Janesville


“I’ll be interested to see what constructive thing they do with the building. I used to be a truck driver; I drove out of Michigan. The plants that were shut down in the late ’70s and ’80s are still a blight. But we live in a capitalist economy. That's the way it is. You take the good with the bad.”—Robert, refused to share last name.


“We talk about this a lot in my history class. In my introduction to multi-media class, I did some stories on it, about how Janesville revolves around GM. But I’m still really surprised. Janesville seems to be doing good. To hear this is going to happen … Janesville could become the next ghost town.”—Heather, Parker High School student, refused to give last name.


—Ann Marie Ames and Gina Duwe

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