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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tax Incentives Spur General Motors (GM) To Build Another Vehicle In Bowling Green.

GM gets tax incentives, might add new vehicle at Bowling Green plant
By Scott Sloan

The General Motors assembly plant in Bowling Green, which has assembled the Corvette since 1981, is being offered state tax incentives to add production of another vehicle there.

General Motors is considering a new vehicle for its Bowling Green assembly plant, and the state government stepped in Thursday to entice it with $7.5 million in tax breaks.

The automaker is mum on what vehicle it might be adding at the plant, which produces Corvettes, but the head of the local union there said he thinks it's the next generation of the Corvette, which GM is expected to begin manufacturing by 2013.

"We've been trying to work with (GM) in order to get the future product ...," said Eldon Renaud, president of United Auto Workers Local 2164. "You never know from one generation to another if you'll get the opportunity to build it."

GM told the state the new vehicle production could mean the addition of 250 jobs that would pay an average of $42 hourly, including benefits. The plant now employs about 500 hourly and salaried workers, said plant spokeswoman Andrea Hales.

"At this time, the company is exploring what incentives might be available for the potential project," she said. "We are making no announcements at this time and have no set time frame to make a decision."

Hales added that other plants are being considered for the new vehicle. She declined to address whether it's the next generation of the Corvette.

GM told the state the investment for the project would be more than $131 million. That was characterized primarily as a refurbishment of the plant, according to state documents.

Renaud said he's been told the plant would need a new body shop to produce the next generation of the Corvette, which has been assembled in Bowling Green since 1981.

The plant's recent history has been rocky, as it has seen employment dwindle from about a thousand. In 2007, a deal between the UAW and GM suggested Bowling Green could see more than 2,000 new jobs as it would build the Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice. But that plan was scrapped in 2009 when the company announced it would discontinue those brands. That year, it also stopped producing its second vehicle, the Cadillac XLR.

The plant, however, survived a wave of closings that affected other facilities.

A condition of the new tax incentives is that if GM picks Bowling Green for the vehicle, it must maintain employment of at least 449 people at the site.

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