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GM to build small car in Orion Township

Thursday, June 25, 2009

GM to build small car in Orion Township

Detroit News staff and wire reports


General Motors Corp. has chosen Orion Township over sites in Wisconsin and Tennessee for its new small car production, a project that would create 1,200 jobs in a state hit hard by manufacturing cuts, according to the Associated Press.

A source with knowledge of the GM decision said corporate officials have recommended to GM’s board that it select the Orion plant. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said the hope is that the board could vote on the recommendation within the next 24 hours, but that it was likely to happen on Friday at the earliest.

GM spokeswoman Sherrie Childers Arb declined comment.

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.

"General Motors selecting Michigan for the site for production of a new small vehicle would be phenomenal news for Michigan workers and for the state," U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, said. "A whole lot of us have worked 24/7 in recent weeks to push for this result."

Orion Township officials recently sweetened an offer to GM that includes a 100 percent tax break on new machinery and equipment for up to 25 years — more than double what was originally offered earlier this month, township Supervisor Matthew Gibb told The Detroit News.

GM could end up saving as much as $100 million in taxes, depending on the type of equipment installed in the plant and the type of production. The state also has been working on an incentive package, the details of which have not been released.

"We’d be overjoyed," by an announcement, Gibb said. "It would prove that when a community looks at the importance of the people and ancillary benefits of the plant and is willing to sacrifice some tax revenue, that progress can be made. We went to the mat."

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

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

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.

"Today’s news is a credit to Michigan’s workers and management," U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, said. "Their record of quality and accomplishment won them this opportunity."

GM also is likely to announce that its Pontiac parts stamping plant will be retooled to make parts for the new car, based on the Chevrolet Spark. About 1,000 jobs could be saved there.

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.

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