WMSN FOX 47
 

FOX47 NEWS - A Future Without GM

Jeff Angileri
Aug 12, 2008, 10:09 PM


More than sixty people met in Janesville today, to talk about the economic future of the area, after General Motors closes its doors.

The conference featured experts on building strong regional economies, who told people not to panic. They say cities around the country have faced similar scenarios and found ways to weather tough economic times.

With more than 2,000 jobs soon to be eliminated at General Motors, and perhaps hundreds more due to the domino effect, the city of Janesville is facing an economic debacle. And experts say, so is the entire region.

If a neighbor is struggling, it affects the whole neighborhood, said Gary Wolter, with the Collaboration Council.

Members of Thrive, the non-profit economic development group, say regional collaboration is key to the survival of all the communities in south-central Wisconsin.

Environmentalism, education, workforce issues--you can't look at one city or county in isolation, said Wolter.

They hope to turn today's talk into tomorrow's action.

More momentum, more energy, more people telling the story, really building better awareness and education for all the citizens about the direction of the future, said Mike Langley, an economic regional collaborator.

Diversity is the future, according to Thrive. For the area to succeed after GM's departure, people need to promote and strengthen other regional assets--like agriculture, healthcare, and bio technology.

Langley helped rustbelt cities rebuild after losing major industries, and said Janesville can turn its economy around, too.

If you look at Pittsburgh today, you'll find that we're not dependent on any one type of business, or sector of business, said Langley. We have a very diverse economy.

Thrive specifically chose Janesville as the sight of its semi-annual meeting because of GM's announcement.

Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock, and Sauk counties make up the eight county Madison region, according to Thrive.

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