JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) -- This hard-scrabble city's General Motors plant has withstood storms, the Great Depression and a world war. But it couldn't survive high gas prices.
GM announced Monday it would shut down the plant in two phases. Sport utility vehicle production will end Dec. 23, leaving about 1,200 people out of work. About 40 workers will stay on through May or June to complete a light truck order for Isuzu. Then the doors to the sprawling complex will close.
City leaders estimate those job losses could affect 4,000 to 6,000 other jobs in Janesville such as suppliers and restaurant workers who depend on the plant for business.
"Obviously, it makes me heartsick," said City Council President Amy Loasching, a plant worker herself.
The plant has been a fixture in Janesville, a blue-collar city of 60,000 about 45 miles south of Madison, for most of the past century, employing generations of residents. But rumors have been swirling for years GM planned to shut it down. Rounds of buyouts and layoffs in recent years only stoked those fears.
In June GM finally announced the plant would be among four to close by 2010, saying high gas prices had hurt SUV sales. Monday's announcement set a hard date.
State and local officials promised Monday to keep trying to persuade GM to retool the plant for a new line of vehicles, but workers and others here greeted the news with grim acceptance.