Hot new car sparks GM to rehire laid-off workers

2011 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ. X11CH_CZ084 (07/25/2010)

LORDSTOWN, Ohio - The entire town of Lordstown is being jolted back to life by 4,000 pounds of steel.

"I can't explain to you how warm and exciting I feel," says Bobbi Marsh. "I mean my heart could burst - I'm just that excited to be here."

CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports Marsh had been unemployed for a year-and-a-half. We first met her back in January 2009, one month after she was laid off along with 2,200 others when GM cut production of the now defunct Cobalt.

Seth Doane's original report on Lordstown

Back then, Marsh was having a very tough time. "Here I am - a college graduate. I want to be able to provide on my own."

She tightened her budget and used her mother's piano lesson money to help save her house. Through it all, she was anxious about the stress on her son.

"I feel like I'm a better mom," Marsh says. "Because I'm not worried where my paycheck is coming."

For a month not a single car rolled off the production line. Now, the plant is up and running at capacity, employing about 4,500 people, and turning out a car a minute.

Plant manager Bob Parcell has a sense of gratification now. "Going from telling people, 'you're laid off' to telling people - 'hey, we're hiring - come back in.'"

Parcell's proud of the new car coming off the line now, the fuel-efficient Chevy Cruze. Introduced in September, it had outsold every other GM vehicle by April.

"How this plant goes is really how this community goes," Parcell says. "And really how northeast Ohio goes."

Mayor Michael Chaffee says 75 percent of his town's revenue comes from the plant. "It was hard to turn on the television and see U.S. senators talking about letting the U.S. auto industry go away."

When we first met Jon Tarcheck, he'd been furloughed and filling his time with house chores. He was laid-off for four months just as his son was heading to college. He says, "we were really scraping together just to make ends meet - because we didn't know what the future was going to be.

But now he's working again, not far from Bobbi Marsh.

Marsh says "It feels like I've conquered something - by overcoming being laid off and being able to survive - because it makes me feel like, it makes me feel like I'm a winner."

It appears that the whole town did.