GM return fall back for Janesville - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

GM return fall back for Janesville


JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- There's cautious optimism in Janesville over the resumption of work at the city's idle General Motors plant.

GM and state officials announced June 1 Janesville is competing with plants in Orion Township, Michigan and Spring Hill, Tennessee for the production of a small car.

Former GM Janesville workers and members of other affected industries in the city said while plant resumption would be a huge boost, there's also a sense of Janesville moving on without the long-time industrial giant's presence.

Many former plant workers are trying to sell homes, as they try to downsize or relocate for other jobs.

Area realtors said a return of activity at GM Janesville would have a positive impact on the community, but an unknown affect on the realty industry, even with the creation of plant jobs.

"If they open it, will there be $14 an hour jobs?   Or will they be $28 an hour?"  said Rock County-Green County realty association president Verna Saladino.  

Saladino said since mid-April, Janesville's depressed housing market has been trending up.   Saladino said housing sales in April for Rock County were up 21.8% over April 2008, with April home sale prices up 16.7% compared to a year ago.    Saladino said more and more Madison residents are looking at Janesville as a bedroom community, with Janesville's housing affordability.

Former plant worker Mike Wehinger and his Rita have not taken the step of listing their eastside home for sale, even though they are considering relocation an as option to Wehinger's continuing unemployment.

Wehinger said the possibility of Janesville plant resumption will not sidetrack his future planning.

"It would be great if it did happen, but I'm not going to hold my breath."

I'm not going to sit and wait on GM any more,"   Wehinger told 27 News.   "I have to move on.   I've got to find work."

But Wehinger said he would continue to look daily at his auto worker union's website to track  any developments on GM's siting of this small car production.

The waiting game for former workers and industries affected by the idling of the plant will continue for awhile.   It is believed a site-choice is two to three months away.

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