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Presidential Task Force on the Automotive Industry gathers with President Obama in Washington.

City Officials Cite Progress in Meeting With Washington Big Wigs on Autos

GM, Manufacturing Sector, Economic Recovery Efforts Focus of Lobbying Trip

November 28, 2009       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Since General Motors is one of Bay City's oldest and most important employers--

And since GM is owned 60 percent by the U.S. government--

Wouldn't it make sense, if your city's economic welfare depended partially on the success of GM, to meet with the majority shareholders?

Of course it would, and that's exactly what City Manager Robert V. Belleman and Mayor Charles Brunner did recently.

The dynamic duo (not Batman and Robin, but Belleman and Brunner) did a three-day gig in the capitol recently to lobby the managers of the government share in the once mighty automaker.

And, since government apparently is the main entity interested in the fate of the working men and women of this nation, government's action, or lack thereof, is a key to the future -- especially of blue collar communities like Bay City, Saginaw, Flint, Lansing and others.

A pending initial public offering by the new General Motors, perhaps to be slated by next year, is anticipated by some of the major officials. GM has begun paying back some of its $17 billion in government loans and is clawing its way back to profitability. These developments have tremendous importance for Bay City and the Saginaw Valley.

The Bay City plant is planning to secure existing employment and additional hiring for work on parts for the Chevrolet Volt, the first good news for that plant in some time. A local committee headed by the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce as well as the city have been meeting for several years with top GM officials and apparently have "saved" the local plant that had been threatened with closure.

Other topics discussed in the Washington meetings included funding for redevelopment efforts in automotive communities, environmental remediation, solar energy development in the Great Lakes Bay Region and other economic recovery efforts.

Every important Washington figure making decisions on the fate of GM now knows about Bay City, and they can connect names and faces with Bay City.

Those big wigs include:

  • Brian McGowan, deputy assistant secretary and chief operating officer of the Economic Development Administration;

  • Mark Weatherly, deputy associate director of Housing, Treasury and Commerce Division of the Office of Management and Budget;

  • Ron Bloom, senior advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry;

  • Dr. Edward Montgomery, Director of Recovery for Auto Communities Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry.

  • Sean Cartwright, chief of staff to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce;

  • Senator Carl Levin, D-Michigan;

  • Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan;

  • Rep. John Dingell, D-Detroit;

  • Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Flint/Saginaw/Bay City; and

  • Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

    Mr. Belleman explained the visits:

    "Our primary purpose is to further develop our relationship with the administration as well as communicate with our elected officials about specific issues impacting the City of Bay City as it relates to the General Motors Powertrain Plant and the overall economic downturn."

    Belleman and Brunner, in meeting with Rep. Kildee, "discussed the purpose of the Mayors and Municipalities Automotive Coalition, and the specific focus and message of our current visit," said Mr. Belleman. "Congressman Kildee applauded our efforts and encouraged us to continue the fight for the automotive industry and the City of Bay City."

    The local officials were joined in some of the meetings by the mayors of Lansing, Sterling Heights and Fenton, the city manager of Auburn Hills and Wixom, Shreveport, Louisiana, the business manager of Walton Hills, Ohio, and the city's lobbying firm, the Ferguson Group.

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    Dave Rogers

    Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
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