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GM Invests in Corvette Plant

by Dan Modlin, Kentucky Public Radio

General Motors will spend $131 million to upgrade its plant in Bowling Green.

GM North America Preisdent Mark Reuss says the money will upgrade the plant so it can build the next generation of Corvettes.

“Last week we announced a number of significant improvements to the 2012 Corvette coming this fall. The third generation will continue for at least two more years, while behind the scenes work will begin to update the facility and ensure the Corvette will continue to be the true American sports car, built here for many years to come,” he says.

Reuss says the expanded capabilities at the facility will eventually create about 250 new jobs.

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GM Dealer Says Banks, Not Big Three, To Blame For Slump

<!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –> As General Motors emerges from bankruptcy, one dealer says no amount of restructuring will help sales return to previous levels.

Sales at Tony Brown Chevrolet in Brandenburg are down about 40 percent from last year. General Manager David Bradford puts most of the blame on the fact that banks and other lenders have stopped financing vehicle purchases for buyers with poor credit.

“There’s a sub-prime market in the car business that is a lot larger than the sub-prime market of the housing industry,” he says.

Bradford says he doesn’t think GM’s new vehicles and focus on service will drive sales up unless more potential buyers can finance cars. He says one positive effect of the company leaving bankruptcy is the re-opening of manufacturing plants. Right now, Bradford says he’s running out of cars as well as customers.

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Local News

Auto Executives To Address Senate

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Lisa Autry (WKYU-Bowling Green)

The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hear from General Motors and Chrysler executives about dealership closures Wednesday.

Chrysler plans to end its relationship with 800 dealerships, while GM is aiming to drop 11 hundred dealers. There are about 62 hundred GM dealerships in the country. Owensboro Chevrolet dealer Don Moore says that’s too many for the current economy.

“The market share for GM has gone from 51% down below 20% and the low teens,” he says. “When that has occurred, it’s not viable to have so many dealers. The dealers cannot continue to make the money.”

The committee will look at ways to protect the employees and owners of targeted dealerships who could end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory that cannot be sold.

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Local News

Ending Jobs Bank Could Hurt Local Economy

When President Bush announced a government loan to General Motors and Chrysler last week, he called for the end of the jobs bank program, which provides benefits and partial wages for laid-off employees.

While Ford is not set to receive aid anytime soon, ending the jobs bank program could hurt former Ford employees in Louisville. Retail researcher John Talmage says ending the program during a restructuring of the Big Three automakers would leave thousands of workers without pay or updated skills.

“The most important thing for a laid-off worker is to find a new job as quickly as possible,” he says. “If the infrastructure that supports sustaining that worker during that unemployment and retraining, retooling and redeploying that worker ends, then, in this economy, it’s going to be very hard to make those kind of matches.”

The United Auto Workers union previously agreed to suspend the jobs bank program to help the struggling automakers.