Tenn. submits bid for GM car at Spring Hill plant

chicagotribune.com

Tenn. submits bid for GM car at Spring Hill plant

By ERIK SCHELZIG

Associated Press Writer

3:22 PM CDT, June 18, 2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn.


 

Tennessee officials have submitted their bid to General Motors to try to persuade the company to choose its Spring Hill plant over two other finalists for the production of a new small car.

A spokesman for Gov. Phil Bredesen confirmed Thursday the proposal has been made, but declined to give any details.

Bredesen had previously made critical remarks about the bankrupt automaker’s demands for upfront payments from states in return for selecting among plants that are scheduled to go on standby later this year or are already closed.

GM has said it is moving production of the new subcompact car from Asia to either Spring Hill, Janesville, Wis., or Orion Township, Mich.

The Democratic governor was on a trade mission to Europe and not immediately available for comment. Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber was also on the trip, but issued a statement through a spokesman to say Tennessee met the Tuesday deadline to respond to GM.

"I have sent a detailed response outlining what the governor and I see as a clear business case for utilizing Spring Hill to assemble the new vehicle," Kisber said.

Bredesen told reporters last week that his impression from meetings with GM officials was that the company wants a large cash payment and not long-term tax incentives.

"It certainly was a new look for me at how they are approaching this thing, which is absolutely ‘Tell me how big of a check you’re going to write,"’ Bredesen said at the press conference.

The Spring Hill plant produced more than 3.7 million Saturns between 1990 and 2007 before the plant underwent a more than $600 million overhaul to build the Chevrolet Traverse crossover.

The upgrades at the plant occurred only after Bredesen persuaded lawmakers to approve new tax breaks to help encourage the upgrades.

The Bredesen administration has landed other high-profile automotive deals through its aggressive corporate tax incentives, including a new $1 billion Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga and the relocation of Nissan Motor Corp.’s North American headquarters from California to suburban Nashville in 2006.

GM is expected to announce its decision in the next few weeks.

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