(01/17/13) - Another GM plant in Genesee County is closing.
General Motors announced Thursday that they will close down the Grand Blanc North American Tooling Center, formerly known as the Weld Tool Center, by July 1.
All 343 employees who work there were called together for a rare all employee meeting shortly before 10 Wednesday morning. The plant manager came in, read a short two or three line, prepared statement, and told the employees the center would close by July 1.
Several officials have confirmed that to be true. No one, however, is being fired from the company.
GM says it is just consolidating operations into other facilities - including the Flint Tool and Die Plant, the Warren Technical Center and a plant in Parma, Ohio. All the employees will be offered jobs at other sites.
The plant opened in 1942 as a tank manufacturing plant.
It most recently built parts for the Chevy Volt, Cruze and Sonic.
Workers we talked to are upset, but they say they're used to it.
"Probably 80 percent of us are transplants from other situations and this is not the first go round for a lot of people in the plant. They've been through plant closings before. Every plant I've worked in has been torn down, so that's not a very good track record," said John Hoyes, tool maker.
GM said, in a press release sent out earlier Wednesday, that they expect to employ about 1,000 more workers in the Flint area than they did in 2011.
However, Grand Blanc Township's Supervisor, Micki Hoffman, estimates the township will lose about $400,000 a year in tax revenue, based on recent numbers, but says they've been preparing for this.
Hoffman says she found out about the same time as General Motors workers that the Grand Blanc North American Tooling Center will be closing. But it's something she saw coming a while back.
"It isn't as bad as it could have been. As I say, when we were down in 2008 and we didn't have the stimulus and the auto industry wasn't coming back at that time, we knew this was something that would be in our future and we're very happy that it got put off for a while, you know," she said.
The township already has ideas for what to do with the space, once it's empty, even if they're not set in stone.
"We've been making some alternative plans. Well, I say, ideas. They're not plans yet, but we've been thinking about what if for quite a while now," Hoffman said. "Definitely looking. We're not going to let it lie idle."
In her mind, the biggest loss will be her friends who work there, and her memories of what the plant used to be.
"These are my family, these are my friends, these are my neighbors," she said. "This was the tank plant, and Hill Road was built with about this much cement because the tanks would drive down the road to test them out. It is, it's a big part of our history. "
GM said, right now, the plant is not for sale, and they're still trying to figure out what to do with it.
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