Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Fate of Flint's Empty G.M. Factories

G.M. and Flint had a lot of good years together, but the breakup was brutal. And like many once-passionate relationships, this one is ending in the worst possible least for Flint. Bill Vlasic and Nick Bunkley of The New York Times report:

When American taxpayers bailed out General Motors, the company was split, with the best assets going to the reorganized automaker of the same name. This new General Motors is selling cars, making money and preparing a public stock offering.

The least valuable assets, including the run-down factories in Flint, were left in the shell of the old G.M., now named the Motors Liquidation Company.

This company has filed a bankruptcy reorganization plan that lays out how it will clean up and sell off the dozens of unwanted pieces of what was once the world’s largest automaker.

But the process is slow, and while plant closings have already cost jobs and tax revenue in many communities, the empty factories themselves are now becoming a burden.

“When General Motors closed shop in Flint, they just turned the lights off,” said Chris Swanson, a captain with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department, which has made nearly two dozen arrests this year at the Flint North complex on charges of theft, assault with intent to murder and others.

Given all the crime in the area, one might wonder why local law enforcement is bothering to protect the plants G.M. has left behind.


  1. Yet ANOTHER NYT piece on Flint! I have now lost count. Still Gordie yours is my fav. Actually the Slate piece is my all time fav.

    If there is another American city that gets more coverage than Flint in the NYT - aside from DC or NY itself - I would like to know what it is.

    150,000 lbs of copper?!? That's 75 *tons*!

  2. Flint is clearly on the NY Times radar.

  3. Does the New York Times want to solve Flint's problems, or just point out problems outside New York City? There are certainly parts of NYC that rival Flint's decay. I saw pictures of an area called Jamaica for instance. And Manhattan at its best is no picnic. Central Park is riddled with crime. It's amazing the Hollywood stars aren't attacked. The corruption in politics and goverment agencies in NYC is well known.

    And don't get in anyone important's way if you want to avoid a confrontation. Or anyone else for the that matter.

  4. God, talk about blaming the messenger. I'd be quite happy for Flint to have NYC's problems.

  5. OK, my fur trading friend, how does the NYT help Flint by dwelling on its problems? Perhaps they get threatened for writing about New York's problems???

  6. You got a point anonymous, after all Bloomberg is in media (you never really leave). I'm sure there's a strangle hold there somehow. Maybe Flint is just intriguing for NYT because of GM... or maybe someone from Flint works there.

  7. Annonymous, first let me say it's an honor to be considered your fur trading friend. Seriously, that's pretty funny.

    My point is that it ain't the new york times job, or any good paper's job, to "help" Flint. Like you, i get sick of the bad coverage. But that story was accurate. And it's an important story. It says something about the state of our country. It reflects the reality of Flint.

    And there's been two stories that could be considered positive. There was one in the NY times about community gardens. And gordie young wrote about Carriage Town. And that original profile of Dan Kildee was about people doing something to fix Flint's problems. So it's not all negative. And, again, it's not there job to make flint look good. their job is to reflect the reality of Flint.

  8. For the record, I didn't set out to write a "positive" or a "negative" story about Flint. I thought what was happening in Carriage Town was interesting and, to a certain extent, unexpected. That made it seem like a good story to me. I pitched the idea to the NY Times and they agreed.

  9. Well, maybe Steve Mariotti needs to come back to Flint and teach entrepeneurship back home rather than in New York City. We know he's there.

    What's out there that still needs to be invented, developed and manufactured? Where are the Copemans, Motts, Durants and Dorts of today?

    Or have our "US Jobs For World Peace and Nation Building" programs finally burned us completely out?


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at