WisBusiness: Commerce Secretary Confident GM Plant Will Stay Open

By Brian E. Clark

Commerce Secretary Mary Burke said she is not worried that continuing losses at General Motors will lead to the closure of the company’s Janesville plant.

GM announced in June that it would cut more than 22 percent of its blue-collar work force in the United States – roughly 25,000 jobs – by the end of 2008.

A week ago, GM reported a $286 million loss in the second quarter, compared to a $1.4 billion profit a year earlier. It was the third straight quarterly loss.

Burke expressed confidence that GM will keep the Janesville plant open, emphasizing that the company had spent $175 million in recent months to upgrade the factory to produce a new generation of SUVs.

“We are in constant communication with GM,” she said. “What happens to that plant will be a long-term decision. It depends in part on how their new models do.”

Burke said the Departments of Commerce, Transportation and Administration had invested roughly $10 million to aid the plant in the past few years.

If it were to close, said some of the contracts would require GM to refund at least part of those grants.