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GM Shake-Ups Frazzle Factory Town

Ypsilanti, Michigan, has been a GM factory town for more than 50 years. With the recent ouster of GM CEO Rick Wagoner by the federal government, many in the oft-shaken town are worried about its future.
April 3, 2009, 10am PDT | Nate Berg
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"In this township of 52,000 people, already battered for 20 years by economic turmoil, the high-stakes political battle that played out Monday in Washington only further frayed the nerves of blue- and white-collar workers who once envisioned a lifetime with GM."

"Paul Schreiber, mayor of Ypsilanti, said the city has been hit hard by the cutbacks at the Willow Run plant and the closure of an automotive components plant formerly owned by Visteon Corp."

"Property taxes are dropping, and foreclosures are rising. Schreiber hopes the city can become a "town of knowledge, culture and entertainment," based on the local college, Eastern Michigan University."

"That would be a big leap from its past."

"The plant was built by Henry Ford and used to manufacture B-24 bombers during World War II. A mass influx of Southerners to work at the plant gave the industrial city the nickname Ypsitucky. In fact, it was named after 19th-century Greek war hero Demetrius Ypsilantis."

"After the war, Kaiser-Frazer Corp. built cars there but stopped in the early 1950s, and GM took over the sprawling plant that covers more than 5 million square feet -- once the largest single factory in the world. Today, many corners of the plant are darkened and machinery is in storage."

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 in Los Angeles Times
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