Wednesday, May 28, 2008

An Open Letter to Rick Wagoner, CEO GM

An Open Letter to General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner:

Let me point out, right up front, that I understand your position to build the largest amount of profit for the corporation and the highest stock prices for your investors. Many factors go into accomplishing these goals, including closing facilities and job attrition. You have the legal right to make the corporate decision to move jobs from one facility to another in the United States or ultimately through a next step to a foreign based facility based on national free trade agreements and your national labor contracts. While you are allowed to do this, let me point out that you are missing a wonderful specific opportunity in St. Lawrence County, NY, and you are feeding into a destructive economic model that undercuts American people.

The General Motors facility in Massena, NY has slowly been winding down production, but while it is still under your control, I wanted to explain to you how its unique geographic placement, your past development of a truly American auto imprint, and your corporate move toward green technology could make the Massena plant a jewel for you.

Massena, NY and St. Lawrence County are both well-known for their renewable energy production. The St. Lawrence River was harnessed over fifty years ago to supply clean, renewable hydroelectric power for many businesses and residents in the northeast. Wind power facilities have risen in neighboring counties and new proposals are being addressed in St. Lawrence County and throughout northern New York. The abundance of open land could also mesh with emerging solar power generating facilities. In short, St. Lawrence County could be the battery of the United States. As we build clean, renewable energy sources, General Motors has advanced great technologies for alternative fuels in autos. The E-Flex drive system being implemented with the Chevy Volt creates a functional and marketable electric vehicle that could mesh completely with the culture of renewable energy in St. Lawrence County. Tying the Massena plant into alternative fuels technologies with vehicles built in the United States could be equivalent to the emergence of the Saturn Motor Company with its base in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

In addition, this move could alleviate a new economic model that is destroying the spirit of the United States. Our free trade policies open up global marketplaces. Success comes with getting the cheapest goods into the U.S. market for us to purchase. Everything looks at Americans as consumers. But we don’t get value as people through the things that we use, we get value as people through things we produce. Our manufacturing sector has eroded over the last few decades. We have moved to an information society, but we should not abandon our production roots. Protecting technology developed in the United States has always been a strength for us, economically, militarily, and culturally. As that technology is now developed and outsourced, we lose our strength. New technologies, green technologies can create a revitalized manufacturing base. The advancements that General Motors has begun could be a large brick in this new foundation. Instead of being seen as a slipping global power, we could find a way to reemerge as a global power in protecting the national importance in development, production, and establishment of emerging technologies. Our focus on technology limiting oil use for residential and personal transportation energy consumption would be a great first step toward energy independence. The synergy between General Motors and northern New York could symbolize that shift in thought.

Mr. Wagoner, you and others who make weighty decisions for General Motors obviously attained your position through intelligence, keen insight, and hard work. I hope you give these proposals additional thought. I thank you for your time.



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