The ugly underbelly of the auto industry’s collapse during the recession and subsequent bailout and bankruptcy restructuring has been mostly kept under wraps, since all’s well that ends well.
But the ugliness sometimes rears its head, as communities all over the nation try to get past the massive impact of GM’s collapse.
As a part of the restructuring process, the Racer Trust was created in March 2011 by the US Bankruptcy Court to clean up and position for redevelopment property owned by the old General Motors Corp. before its 2009 bankruptcy.
When it was formed, Racer Trust owned 4 million sq ft of industrial space in 66 buildings across 7,000 acres in 14 states, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest.
The trust was given $773 million for the redevelopment, which is supposed to be used for environmental clean-ups of these lots and “to create jobs and generate new economic opportunity in the communities hurt by the GM bankruptcy.”
Four of these vacant properties happen to be in Lansing, Michigan, and the Racer Trust has a budget of $17 million for their redevelopment. This is where the Lansing Economic Area Partnership Inc. (LEAP) is chipping in by announcing the creation of a taskforce to explore the possibility of using these plots to expand the “new GM” presence here in Lansing.
The task force members include LEAP, RACER Trust, GM, UAW, Lansing Township, Delta Township, Michigan Economic Development Corp., the City of Lansing and the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The Delta and Lansing townships both have to be involved because the vacant plots are divided between the two townships. The task force is focusing on two specific parcels of land on 2800 West Saginaw Street and 401 North Verlinden Street.
If the townships come together and everyone else, including GM, UAW and the Racer Trust, actually want to do something about it, then it could possibly turn into a huge project for Lansing. GM would need assurances for a lot of help to even think about the expansion, which is where the MEDC, the City of Lansing and the Chamber of Commerce come into the picture.
It’s hard to say if GM would be willing or able to step back into the void it created, but you have to give LEAP points for trying. Besides, it will surely be a lot easier to bring in GM rather than trying to entice other automobile companies to invest in Lansing.