Tenn. Town Worries About Failed Saturn Deal

SPRING HILL, Tenn. (AP) -- Residents in the small town where the Saturn auto brand came to life say a failed deal to sell the car line will hurt an area already struggling in a tough economy.

General Motors Co. said Wednesday that it plans to shut down Saturn after the collapse of a deal for Penske Automotive Inc. to acquire the brand.

At Spring Hill, where GM launched the brand about two decades ago, the announcement creates uncertainty for employees at a Saturn parts distribution center. Local business leaders worry about the now bleak future of the town's auto industry.

Debbie Hargis is an office manager at a repair service that has a contract with an independent transporter for GM. She said Thursday the latest news means her company may lose the work, and she and other workers may lose their jobs.

"We will definitely be affected," Hargis said Thursday. "I think about it almost every day."

Josh Hutcherson, who has been with the service company for six years, said he worries about how tough it would be to find a job with the economy the way it is.

"I would try to find something else, but it would be hard because everybody else would be looking for jobs," said the 26-year-old, who is married and has two children.

United Auto Workers Local 1853 officials said there are about 110 workers at the center.

Saturn production had been moved by GM. Those distribution center employees were not among about 2,500 affected when GM in June announced that the Spring Hill plant now making the Chevrolet Traverse is to be idled Nov. 25. Many of those employees are transferring or retiring.

However, the long-term affects of losing a plant that once boasted more than 7,000 employees in the 1990s has local residents concerned.

Jimmy Story owns a local cleaners and said one of the reasons he located to Spring Hill was because he thought the plant would be a good draw for his business.

"We have our fingers crossed that something will come in the future," Story said.

Spring Hill Mayor Michael Dinwiddie is also trying to be upbeat.

"We certainly will be affected, a lot of our businesses will be affected," he said. "But I'm optimistic we'll bounce back."

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