It's an uneasy holiday season for thousands of General Motors workers: The nation's leading car maker is planning to close several factories in 2019. And the looming layoffs are bringing back bitter memories in Janesville, Wisconsin, where a GM plant shut down 10 years ago.
Suppliers went broke, downtown businesses sagged, and incomes plummeted.
The factory never opened again. But a developer now owns the property and the city hopes for six to eight new plants here one day. To make something — anything.
During the past decade, other businesses have come to town, drawn by its many rail lines and riverfront real estate. And although wages and benefits on a GM scale have never returned, the area is gaining manufacturing workers.
Some former GM workers have moved on since the factory closing. "I feel kind of sad when I go by," said Debbie Behm-Kraehnke, who worked for GM for 23 years. "But I feel glad that they're doing something with it."
She went back to school and is now a hospital worker. "You've got to look out for yourself," she said. "You've got to figure out what you want to do and move on."