An economic blow to Janesville, Wis.

The GM plant there survived the Depression, a world war, and GM's major layoffs in the 1980s, but it will not escape the latest round of cutbacks.

By EMILY FREDRIX, Associated Press

Last update: June 3, 2008 - 9:24 AM

JANESVILLE, Wis. — General Motors' Tuesday announcement that it will close its Janesville plant and three others is an economic blow to the Wisconsin community that has long been entwined with auto making.

The Janesville plant opened in 1919. It has survived the Depression, a world war, and GM's major layoffs in the 1980s, but it will not escape the latest round of cutbacks.

"There were some tears and a lot of people were kind of ticked off, but it's part of the business," said Scott Lambert, 39, who has worked at the plant for 13 years.

He said he was headed to buy an atlas to figure where other GM plants were that might be hiring.

Chief executive Rick Wagoner made the announcement at a Wilmington, Del., news conference before the automaker's annual meeting. He said the Janesville factory will end production of medium-duty trucks by the end of 2009 and SUV production by the end of 2010 — possibly sooner.

The Janesville plant makes Chevy Suburbans and Tahoes and GMC Yukon and Denali SUVs.

The oldest of GM's remaining plants, it was long the largest employer in Janesville, a city of 60,000 about 75 miles southwest of Milwaukee. But cutbacks have shrunk the workforce to about 2,600, so it's no longer the city's biggest employer. Mercy Health Care now holds that title.

Ray Stafford, 77, of Janesville, said it was a sad day for the city, but workers have faced the possibility of the plant closing for a long time.

"It's something we knew was coming, I think, with the way gas prices are," said Stafford, who retired from the plant in 1988 after working there 33 years.

Robert Stevens, 80, of Janesville, also left the company in 1988 after 40 years there. He said GM was at least giving workers notice of the closure.

"At least they'll have time to put money in their sock," he said.

Gov. Jim Doyle had no immediate comment on the closing but planned to meet with workers Tuesday afternoon.

The company's employees and payroll have been shrinking over the years as the industry suffered, said Doug Venable, Janesville's director of economic development. In 2007, GM had an average of nearly 2,800 workers and a payroll worth $229 million, he said.

That's down from a payroll of $330 million for 4,100 employees in 2003.

"There's always been uncertainty in the economy about GM and obviously there's a lot more uncertainty than there was five years ago, so it's just one of those things that you deal with," Venable said.

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Comments:

_Tam_
Jun. 3, 2008 at 3:56 PM So sorry hon.  =(  BIG HUG!

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Kats_...
Jun. 3, 2008 at 4:40 PM At least it's not going to be immediate.  But by 2010, the GM plant will be no more.  This seriously is going to impact Janesville in a BIG way.

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