The news that Chrysler Corporation will likely close its Kenosha engine plant, and move production to Mexico, is drawing reaction from state and local leaders ranging from disappointment to outrage.
Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman got word early this morning that the Chrysler engine plant has been targeted for closing, calling the news "a surprise." On Thursday, Bosman was cautiously optimistic that the plant would stay open. Bosman said he doesn't know if the information in Chrysler's bankruptcy filing is the final word, and he'll keep trying to "salvage something" for Kenosha.
"Our next thought might be to try to get in front of the Fiat management and make a case for Kenosha," said Bosman. "I would hope that we would get a chance to do that in the next couple of months here, before they emerge from the bankruptcy situation." Bosman said while he was surprised by the news, it's wasn't totally unexpected. "We knew that this could happen, this was a possible scenario, because Chrysler would have to downsize, become leaner and meaner as they say. We always felt this was a possibility."
"This is extremely disappointing news," said Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser. "My message to the federal government will be, as we hear about the stimulus package and recovery act, there's no better stimulus package than jobs. Taking federal dollars to help a company that's putting Kenosha County residents out of work while sending jobs to Mexico, is the wrong way to go about that."
"This plan is contrary to what Chrysler has been telling us all along," Governor Doyle said. "Now we find out through the news media that they may be shipping Wisconsin's jobs to Mexico. This is outrageous. Wisconsin workers are willing to invest their hard earned tax dollars to help save Chrysler but it is unfair to ask those same workers to sacrifice their jobs to save a foreign plant making the exact same product."
Chrysler announced in 2007 it will invest $450 million to retool the factory to produce a new, fuel-efficient V-6 engine. Chrysler has about 850 employees at the Kenosha engine plant.