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Ground broken for new GM center

Gov. Jim Doyle joined with General Motors, United Auto Workers, city of Hudson and Duke Construction officials to break ground for a new General Motors parts distribution center on Wednesday of last week.

The governor also announced the details of a $1.15 million state incentive package that helped bring the facility to Hudson's St. Croix Business Park.

The Wisconsin Department of Commerce will provide the city of Hudson with $850,000 to pay for land development and to establish a revolving loan fund to assist companies that locate in St. Croix Business Park. The state awarded GM a $300,000 customized labor training grant to train nearly 140 employees on new equipment.

According to Dennis Darnold, community development director for the city of Hudson, $425,000 of the state grant money will go to the St. Croix Business Park Corp. to assist with land acquisition and development costs. The city will use the remaining $425,000 to establish a revolving loan fund exclusively for companies that locate in the Business Park.

"General Motors Service and Parts Operations is exactly the kind of company we want to attract to Wisconsin - a high-end company that pays good wages to its workers, relies on highly skilled, well-educated workers, and provides a means for those people to support their families and enjoy the good life that we have here in Wisconsin," Doyle said.

The governor addressed a group of 75 to 100 business and government leaders who gathered under a large canopy for the occasion. It was set along Heiser Street, on the north side of the 30-acre parcel in St. Croix Business Park where the 404,000-square-foot facility will be built.

General Motors spared no expense in hosting the event. Metal street signs directed guests to the site and a large banner stamped with the official logos of GM, the UAW, Duke Construction, the city of Hudson and the state of Wisconsin hung behind the speaker's podium.

A select group was invited to a luncheon with the governor at the Hudson Golf Club following the groundbreaking ceremony.

Doyle praised city officials for bringing the facility to Hudson, saying GM's selection of the site spoke volumes about the excellent reputation the city has earned.

After recognizing the five main partners in the project listed on the banner, Doyle addressed Hudson Mayor Jack Breault, saying: "Mayor, you are really responsible for bringing those partners together on this project. I really thank you for all you have done."

The governor noted that GM's production facility in Janesville celebrated its 80th year in operation last month.

"This is a long and deep and important relationship between the state of Wisconsin and General Motors, and one that in this state we deeply respect and cherish and hope to foster and build on," he said.

The crowd laughed when Doyle added, "Even to the point where your corporate headquarters will someday move to Wisconsin. We'll work out a good financial package."

Doyle said that as governor he is committed to doing everything he can to support "great businesses like (GM)," and to attract more of them to the state.

"Today's announcement is exciting news," he said. "As many areas of our state unfortunately continue to lose some jobs, especially manufacturing jobs, here is a company that is bringing jobs to Wisconsin."

The new facility will handle automotive replacement part shipments to more than 500 GM north central region dealerships in seven states. It will replace the existing Minneapolis distribution center in Edina, Minn.

Charlie Hyndman, director of warehousing and distribution for GM Service and Parts Operations, said the facility represents the automaker's dedication to lean and common processes designed to achieve significant improvements in correct and on-time deliveries, cost savings and competitiveness.

"Customer satisfaction is our top priority, and our new PDC facilities better enable our employees to deliver the best results efficiently," Hyndman said.

"This will be a state-of-the-art facility, with first-class people working in it, and a world-class process to operate it," he said.

Hyndman also complimented state and local officials for their cooperation.

"You have a great state to do business in," he said. "Both the state and the local government here in Hudson have absolutely rolled out the red carpet for us."

Said Hudson Mayor Jack Breault: "The partnering of General Motors Service and Parts Operations with St. Croix Business Park and the state of Wisconsin will have an impressive impact in our community by adding diversity to our local economy, future tax benefits and quality employment opportunities. We look forward to this exceptional addition to our dynamic business atmosphere."

The Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce has planned an open house and family day for employees of the Minneapolis parts distribution center. The aim of the Sept. 13 and Sept. 27 events is to familiarize the employees with the Hudson-area community, including housing, schools, restaurants and recreational and cultural attractions.

"This is a prime example of the city of Hudson representatives going above and beyond to welcome GM into their community," said GM's Hyndman.

UAW Local 722 Chairman Dave Pertile said union employees support GM efforts to streamline processes.

"Our employees have worked hard to earn the solid reputation we possess," Pertile said. "The investment in a new state-of-the-art facility is a recognition of our efforts."

Construction of the Hudson PDC will be completed by fall 2004, according to Bill DeBoer, senior vice president of Duke Construction.

DeBoer said the Hudson facility is the fifth that Duke and GM have partnered on since 1999. "We have developed an outstanding working relationship that enables us to expedite processes and leverage resources," he added.

General Motors Corp. is the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, employing 341,000 people globally in its core automotive business and subsidiaries.

The company was founded in 1908 and has been the global automotive sales leader since 1931. In 2002, GM sold more than 8.6 million cars and trucks, nearly 15 percent of the global vehicle market.

GM has manufacturing operations in 32 countries and its vehicles are sold in more than 190 countries.

GM's global headquarters is at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. More information on GM and its products can be found on the company's consumer Web site at

Randy Hanson can be reached at

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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