GM Took State’s $17 Million, Then Went Away

As General Motors teetered on the brink of collapse nearly three years ago, it was able to tap an unexpected source of cash: the state of Tennessee, reports Chas Sisk.
The automotive giant received nearly $17 million — most of it in the week after executives disclosed the cash crisis that ultimately led to a federal bailout. The grants made GM the biggest single recipient of cash for job training from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, a database obtained by The Tennessean shows.
Part of the FastTrack incentive package that helped Tennessee bring production of the Chevy Traverse to GM’s Spring Hill plant, the grants were meant to train thousands of new workers who would hold down high-paying jobs for decades. But most of those jobs are no longer in Tennessee, as GM shifted production of the Traverse to Lansing, Mich., in 2009.
The outcome of the Traverse project in Spring Hill points out that there are few certainties behind the state’s efforts to spark economic development through incentive programs. While the announcement of investments generates optimism and headlines, downturns in the economy, business decisions and other factors can later sap projects of the touted benefits.
More than $250 million in incentives have been awarded for economic development through FastTrack and related programs, according to a database of more than 3,800 transactions dating back to 1999 and released by the department last month. Of that, $78 million has gone directly to companies for job training.
GM is not the only company to receive FastTrack job training grants, only to later pull back its presence in Tennessee. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Peterbilt Motors Co. also rank among the top 15 recipients of job training awards in that span; both have since laid off hundreds of workers.

One thought on “GM Took State’s $17 Million, Then Went Away

  1. Donna Locke

    The interesting (and disgusting, depending on one’s perspective) thing about the parasitic plant in Spring Hill is that Tennesseans keep loading the GM transplants with money and free stuff and retraining them to get great jobs here and elsewhere while the locals who were supposed to be hired when General Motors came to Maury County still go begging.
    The folks left hanging when the chemical plants closed here are still waiting for such largesse. If they aren’t dead of leukemia, lung disease, etc., from the toxic jobs they did.
    Also, when the GM workers are on well-paid hiatus with great, low-cost health benefits or in well-paid retirement with great low-cost health benefits, they go out and take other jobs here as supplements, the jobs their families aren’t already working — adding to the job competition here.
    I used to see some GM spouses complain in the local paper’s forum when they couldn’t get hired for the few remaining jobs here. I thought that took major gall. And ignorance and disrespect.
    Anyway, some of my Maury cousins tried to get jobs at GM, with no luck. One of them recently lost her house working the scraps here, some of which vamoosed after the companies pocketed the “incentives” we paid for.
    Everybody is trying work at the hospital, one of the few supporting options left.
    We need to put a stop to the corporate-welfare game. Now. Most of it seems illegal, and is certainly a gift that keeps on giving — from us, and we really have no say in the game. Taxpayers often are kept in the dark about the costly “details.”
    Let the high rollers play with their own money. And don’t elect spendthrifts.

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