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GM May Miss Deadline on Saturn Site Selection

March 22, 1985|Associated Press

DETROIT — General Motors said Thursday that it may miss the tentative May 1 deadline for locating its Saturn car-making complex because of the flood of applications.

At least two dozen states have made detailed pitches to GM since the project was announced Jan. 8. Governors from 22 states have traveled to Detroit to lobby for the project, two others have cornered GM Chairman Roger B. Smith out of town, and presentations and inquiries have been made by numerous officials of various states and regions.

Nearly every state has made at least a token attempt at landing the revolutionary project. The company says it hasn't ruled out any state. Many of the proposals go far beyond the tax abatement and site preparation documents that governments usually dangle in front of prospective new employers.

New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, after his visit last week, said: "We left them with an enormous amount of documentation that they haven't even had a chance to see yet."

GM officials say the number and complexity of applications has taxed the manpower of its Saturn Corp. subsidiary--which has just six employees--and its real estate and government relations staffs.

Company spokesman Don Postma said the May 1 date quoted by Smith may be missed "possibly by a month."

"We don't know yet," he said. "We're still trying to make May."

The $5-billion project, aimed at producing an import-fighting subcompact car through use of high technology and with flexible work rules, will employ 6,000 people and could mean a 25,000-person increase in population to the community that lands it, GM has said.

GM is in a hurry because it plans a sprawling manufacturing compound including a mammoth car assembly plant, two foundries and a plastics plant. GM wants to have the first Saturn car on the road by 1990.

GM also has expressed a desire to be near a research university and has emphasized that it is looking for long-term cost savings--not just a one-time tax break or free land.

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