GM Plant in New York Braces for Closing

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General Motors is shutting down another factory in a small town in northern New York. The area will lose nearly 500 jobs, dealing another blow to its battered rural economy.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Now, auto workers across the country are watching this Chrysler buyout. And to add to their worries, this week another plant shutdown was announced. General Motors will close a 50-year-old plant in northern New York.

From North Country Public Radio, Brian Mann reports.

BRIAN MANN: Tuesday morning, Tony Arquette(ph), the local United Auto Worker chief in Massena, New York, came home exhausted after all-night sessions with his members.

Mr. TONY ARCUETTE (United Auto Workers): We've done informational meetings on all three shifts, concluded last evening with third shift.

MANN: The message for union workers was bleak and all too familiar. General Motors' power train plant in this town just south of the U.S.-Canada border will start shutting down immediately. Nearly 500 jobs will be phased out by the end of next year. When big plants go, the network of local employment can unravel with startling speed.

Cindy Hurlba(ph), who owns a flower shop in Massena, says earlier downsizings have already taken a toll.

Ms. CINDY HURLBA (Flower Shop Owner, Massena): Driving down our main street now, there's already a lot of closed buildings. There's already a lot of businesses that have had to make the unfortunate choice to close. It's going to be bad.

MANN: Gary Edwards, the town supervisor, says attracting new industry will be tough, despite a ready supply of cheap electricity from the nearby hydro dam.

Mr. GARY EDWARDS (Town Supervisor, Massena): They've no four lane highway. We're up in the woods. It's always 57 degrees below zero when it snows up there, 13 and a half months out the year.

MANN: With few decent paying jobs available in Massena, many families are expected to leave, meaning shrinking schools and fewer taxpayers. The local chamber of commerce says the trickle down effect from the GM closing threatens one in 20 jobs in this rural county.

For NPR News, I'm Brian Mann.

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