Gary Peters to push for GM plant in Orion Township

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gary Peters to push for GM plant in Orion Township

Robert Snell / The Detroit News

A group led by Michigan Congressman Gary Peters is scheduled to deliver a letter signed by 18,000 people to General Motors Corp.’s headquarters at 10:30 a.m. urging the automaker to build a new small car in Orion Township.

The Make It in Michigan campaign is trying to sway the bankrupt automaker to choose Orion Township over sites in Tennessee and Wisconsin and snag a project that would create 1,200 jobs in a state hit hard by manufacturing cuts. A decision could come this week.

Prominent supporters who have signed the letter include Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon and former Detroit Piston Vinnie Johnson.

Orion Township has offered GM a $44 million deal that includes a 100 percent tax break on new machinery and equipment for up to 12 years, a deal that likely will be sweetened by incentives from the Michigan Economic Growth Authority and, possibly, Oakland County.

The township is willing to forgive $44 million in future tax revenue in hopes of preserving the $2.7 million GM pays annually in local taxes.

GM has said its production goal is 160,000 vehicles annually.

A deal would be a coup for Orion Township and the state, and would help offset job losses at seven Michigan plants GM intends to close in coming months.

The Orion Township plant employs about 3,400 hourly and salaried workers, who make the Pontiac G6 and Chevrolet Malibu. But with GM’s decision to phase out the Pontiac brand by next year, the plant will have the capacity to produce another vehicle.

On June 1, the same day GM filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the automaker unveiled a list of 14 plants that will be closed in coming months as part of its court-ordered restructuring. Michigan will lose an estimated 8,900 jobs at GM facilities slated to close in Pontiac, Livonia, Flint, Ypsilanti Township and Orion Township.

The automaker recently narrowed the possible small car sites to Orion; Janesville, Wis.; and Spring Hill, Tenn.

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