Lt. Gov. John Garamendi says that he thinks federal stimulus money should be used as one of several steps to help keep the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont open.
GM announced in June that it will withdraw from the partnership and Toyota, which is still making Toyota Corolla cars and Toyota Tacoma trucks at the Fremont facility, said two weeks ago that it is also considering withdrawing from the joint venture but a final decision hasn't yet been made.
Garamendi said that at a meeting of the California Commission for Economic Development, which he chairs, in Livermore on Thursday he will present information showing that the possible closure of the NUMMI plant is a statewide issue because it works with a vast supplier network of more than 1,000 companies located in 35 counties in the state and employing 20,000 people.
A total of 35,000 jobs are at risk, including those of the 4,700 people who work at the plant, Garamendi says.
In a phone interview, Garamendi said the Obama administration announced Wednesday that it is awarding grants to Ford, General Motors and other manufacturers to develop alternative vehicle technology, so he thinks "NUMMI should get part of it" as well.
Garamendi said he also hopes that Toyota will still consider building its popular Prius cars at the NUMMI plant even though the carmaker said it would build the cars at a new facility in Louisiana instead.
He said that he's been told that the new plant in Louisiana "is not moving forward at this time" so he thinks stimulus money would be an incentive for Toyota to build Priuses in Fremont.
"We want to make sure that Toyota knows we want them in California and will do anything we can to keep them in California," Garamendi said.
He said he also supports several bills in the state Legislature that aim to help keep NUMMI open.
Garamendi said state Sen. Elaine Corbett, D-San Leandro, has written a bill, SB 483, that would create an enterprise zone in Fremont, while a bill by Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, ABX4 31, would provide a sales and use tax exemption for capital equipment used by automobile manufacturers.
He said the federal government bailed out Detroit when its auto industry was threatened, so now the federal government should help California keep its part of the auto industry.
Bay City News