Janesville area businesses look for support after GM decision

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Gazette staff
Friday, June 26, 2009
— “I didn’t really want to hear this kind of news,” Jim Piccione said when he learned of GM’s choice of Michigan for the small-car plant. “When you hear news like this, it’s not very good.”

Piccione, owner of Jim’s Pizza, fed GM, Lear Corp. and LSI employees for 29 years.

His restaurant delivered pizzas to workers on break, he said, and many GM employees stopped in after work.

“We did big business with GM, Lear and LSI, so it’s not good news,” he said. “When everybody’s working, they spend money.”

After the plant closed, Jim’s Pizza had to lay off two employees because business slowed down, Piccione said.

He hoped the plant would reopen and give his restaurant a boost.

“A lot of people say we can survive without a plant here, but we can’t,” Piccione said. “It brings money into this town; it brings revenue. When people are not working, it’s not good.

Verna Saladino, president of the Rock-Green Realtors Association, said she wished GM reopened the plant.

“It would have been great for our local economy,” she said. “We’ve lost our GM plant, but we’re all surviving. Maybe not the way we’re used to, but we’ve moved on.”

The local real estate market has already felt the impact of the plant closure, Saladino said. People have moved forward.

“Our city leaders will have to work hard to find a new industry,” she said. “I would have liked to have seen those jobs come back, but for so many years, this has kind of been hanging over us.”

Many GM employees who transferred out of town still own homes here, she said.

They might now sell their homes if there is no hope for the plant, Saladino said. Others might keep their families here and commute.

Paul Veneman, a sales representative at Team Electronics, said it is unknown how much business GM employees brought the store. He said people should buy locally to help the economy.

“What can’t you buy local, you know?” Veneman said. “With little independent shops, that’s what we need.”

Team Electronics will survive after GM, even though the economy is struggling, he said.

“We’re doing pretty good,” Veneman said. “We offer a service that big-box stores can’t.”

Last updated: 10:34 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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