Janesville31.6°

GM down, but not out

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Ted Sullivan
March 21, 2009
— Local officials claim Janesville still has an outside shot at General Motors reopening the plant, despite GM Chairman Rick Wagoner’s comments saying otherwise.

“GM has left the door slightly ajar,” Tim Cullen said, adding that “GM has to survive and sales have to come back before we even have a chance.”


Cullen and Brad Dutcher, both of the local GM Retention Task Force, and Rep. Mike Sheridan met with Gov. Jim Doyle on Friday afternoon to discuss GM’s future in Janesville.


Earlier this week, Wagoner said the Janesville community should not be “overly optimistic” about the plant reopening or getting retooled.


But Wagoner meant GM won’t return to the plant at this time, Cullen said. The future remains open, he said.


A GM vice president told the governor the automaker could return to Janesville in 2012 or later if it bounces back.


Considering no other companies have shown interest in the plant, GM is the only option for Janesville, Cullen said.


“We shouldn’t be naïve about our chances, but we shouldn’t close the door,” he said.


Meanwhile, the city of Janesville should try and get control of the plant, Cullen said. And a second committee should explore alternatives for the building, he said.


“I think it’s time to focus on other options,” he said.


The local task force has been working since last summer to retain a GM product at the plant. It will remain intact, Cullen said, and it expects to meet again with GM officials next month.


The lines of communication between GM and the task force will remain open for the next few years, he said.


“When and if the economy comes back … then they would likely return to Janesville,” Cullen said. “This is three years out and maybe longer, and it’s no sure thing.”



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