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GM exec: Community efforts saved parts facility

John Seelmeyer

The decision by General Motors to keep

its big parts distribution center in northern

Nevada was a close call, and a top GM

official last week credited cooperation from

Reno-area officials as a deciding influence.

Because so much of the business at the

distribution facility in Sparks is generated

by California customers, GM officials

looked seriously at moving to Stockton,

Calif., said Ray Culbert, an executive in the

GM service and parts operation.

In fact, he told members of the

Economic Development Authority of

Western Nevada, the dollars-and-cents

analysis between the two cities was very

close.

The difference?

“You wanted us here in the Reno area,”

Culbert said. “You sold us on the thought

of staying in the city.”

The upshot is the construction, now

under way, of a 404,000-square-foot building

384,000 square feet of warehouse,

20,000 square feet of office in Stead.

GM’s decision was critical to the region’s

economy, said Chuck Alvey, president and

chief executive of EDAWN. His agency

estimates the economic impact of the GM

facility at $30 million annually.

At the same time, Alvey said,GM’s

presence in the area is a key selling point as

EDAWN talks with other companies looking

to locate facilities in the region.

The Stead facility, which will replace the

existing GM distribution facility in Sparks,

is expected to be operating in mid-2003.

Construction by Clark and Sullivan on

behalf of the development firm Prologis is

right on schedule, Culbert said.

The new building includes physical fitness

facilities as well as a dedicated room

for training. Culbert said the training room

will get heavy use.

GM has budgeted about $1 million to

train the approximately 200 people who

will work at the distribution center. Culbert

said a good relationship between the company

and the United Auto Workers, which

represents workers at the facility, helped

convince GM of the wisdom of staying in

Nevada.

Whenever GM looks at locations,

Culbert said, the strength of community

services is among the first factors it examines.

Key factors, he said, include:

* A strong school system.

* A solid system of medical care, in part

because of a community that cares about

health will create a healthy workforce.

* A qualified workforce to fill future jobs

with GM.

* An inventory of good-quality, affordable

housing.

* A quality of life its employees will find

attractive.

* A favorable tax structure.


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