FOX47 NEWS - Uncertain Future for Assembly Plant

Jeff Angileri
Mar 30, 2009, 10:34 PM

General Motors' restructuring woes are prompting even more questions about the future of the Janesville Assembly plant.

The automaker shut down operations last December, but some people were holding out hope the plant would re-open in a couple of years. Now, residents say their hope is fading fast.

With GM's corporate office mired in restructuring problems, local operations like the Janesville Assembly plant are left in limbo.

Janesville is on the back burner, said city manager Eric Levitt.

GM is leaving behind empty parking lots, quiet assembly lines, and vacant land with an uncertain future.

Right now, GM owns it and we aren't clear what their future plans for the land are or the plant, Levitt said.

The Janesville Assembly plant is huge -- 330 acres on the city's south side.

It's worth $36 million, and generates nearly $800,000 in tax revue for Janesville, according to the city's economic development director. Some residents still hope the automaker will retool the plant.

I don't want to see General Motors fold up, said Rodney Ebert, Jr.

But with President Obama demanding a new restructuring plan, and GM's CEO Rick Wagoner out of a job, residents say the search for a new tenant is foregone conclusion.

We are strong and we'll survive somehow, but it would be nice to get somebody in there that could bring some more work to the area, said Patti Beggs.

Said Ebert, The plant made guns and bombshells in the 1940's. Lot's of people say bring another car company in, but I don't know how you're going to do that.

The city's economic development director said as long as GM owns the land and the plant, Janesville will continue to benefit from the tax revenue. But with recession, and the assembly plant sitting vacant, the land could be reassessed for lower than it's currently worth.

The Janesville plant opened in 1919. Experts say before another company buys the land, an environmental assessment would likely happen to check for contaminants on site.

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