Advertisement

To Be or Not to Be an Autotown: Four Case Studies

  • Andreas Luescher
  • Sujata Shetty
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter examines the relationship between auto communities and the plants in their midst, as they transition from being decommissioned to serving other uses. Four plants, General Motors’ Assembly Plant in Janesville, Wisconsin; the Willow Run Assembly Plant in Ypsilanti near Detroit, Michigan; Adam Opel’s plants in Bochum, Germany; and Ford’s Genk Body & Assembly in Belgium, were chosen for their historical significance, location near urban corridors, economic impact, architectural and land use strategies, and size (around 4 million square feet). Additionally, all were shut down within the last decade. We briefly describe the context and history in each case, addressing the decision-making process that occurred before the plants were closed, the roles played by different levels of government and other decision-makers, incentives and compromises that were discussed in an attempt to prevent the plants from closing, and the effects of closure on the labor force and the larger community. Studying two plants in Europe and two in USA allows us to highlight some broad parallels and differences.

Keywords

Autotown Janesville, WI Willow Run, MI Bochum, Germany Genk, Belgium 

References

  1. Akers, J. (2013). Making Markets: Think Tank Legislation and Private Property in Detroit. Urban Geography, 34(8), 1070–1095.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Albrechts, L. (2017). Strategic Planning as a Catalyst for Transformative Practices (B. Haselsberger, Ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Atelier Track Design. (2016). De Ford site als Pionier in Circulaire Gebiedsontwikkeling een Out-of-the-box Ontwerpexperiment. Brussel: Departement Ruimte Vlaanderen. https://www.ruimtevlaanderen.be/Portals/108/docs/Onderzoek/ATD_eindrapport.pdf. Accessed 25 June 2018.
  4. BBC News. (2018). Peugeot in Talks to Buy GM’s Opel Unit. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-38969791. Accessed 28 July 2018.
  5. Baltrusaitis, D. (2015). What About Circular Economy? Benefits, Challenges and Reasoning to Implement Circular Economy Within European Context. ISOCARP Congress. https://www.academia.edu/27792604/What_about_circular_economy. Accessed 2 Aug 2018.
  6. Berret, M., Mogge, F., Bodewig, M., Fellhauer, E., Sondermann, C., & Schmidt, M. (2017). Global Automotive Supplier Study 2018: Transformation in Light of Economic Disruption. Roland Berger and Lazard. https://www.rolandberger.com/en/Publications/pub_global_automotive_supplier_study_2018.html. Accessed 28 July 2018.
  7. Bomey, N. (2010, December 19). Most Enormous Room in the History of Man: GM Willow Run Plant History and Facts. Ann Arbor News. http://www.annarbor.com/business-review/most-enormous-room-in-the-history-of-man-gm-willow-run-plant-history-and-facts/. Accessed 2 Aug 2018.
  8. Brinkley, D. (2003). Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company and a Century of Progress 1903–2003. New York, NY: Penguin Group.Google Scholar
  9. Bryan, F. (1997). Beyond the Model T: The Other Ventures of Henry Ford. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Bucci, F. (1993). Albert Kahn: Architect of Ford. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.Google Scholar
  11. Burden, M. (2013, September 30). Preservation Group Gets Extension to Raise Money for Historic Willow Run Factory. Detroit News. https://web.archive.org/web/20131004221215/http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130930/AUTO0103/309300080. Accessed 2 Aug 2018.
  12. Deuse, K. (2012, December 10). Halt to Opel Production Not the End for Bochum. DW. https://www.dw.com/en/halt-to-opel-production-not-the-end-for-bochum/a-16016405. Accessed 2 Aug 2018.
  13. Donelly, T., & Morris, D. (2003). Restructuring Ford Europe. European Business Review, 15(2), 77–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. DW.com. (2014, December 5). End of the Line for Opel Car Manufacture in Bochum. DW. https://www.dw.com/en/end-of-the-line-for-opel-car-manufacturer-in-bochum/a-18111230. Accessed 2 Aug 2018.
  15. Ewing, J. (2013). Ford Pays a High Price for Plant Closing in Belgium. New York Times, November 5, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/06/business/international/ford-pays-a-high-price-for-plant-closing-in-belgium.html. Accessed 2 Aug 2018.
  16. Garnsey, S. (2018). PSA to Develop New Engines in Germany. Automotive Logistics. https://automotivelogistics.media/news/140825. Accessed 11 Aug 2018.
  17. German, P. (n.d.). Bomber City—The Story of Willow Run. http://ypsilantihistoricalsociety.org/willowrun/page4.html. Accessed 25 July 2018.
  18. Goldstein, A. (2017). Janesville: An American Story. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  19. Hackworth, J. (2014). The Limits to Market-Based Strategies for Addressing Land Abandonment in Shrinking American Cities. Progress in Planning, 90, 1–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hackworth, J., & Nowakowski, K. (2015). Using Market-Based Policies to Address Market Collapse in the American Rust Belt: The Case of Land Abandonment in Toledo, Ohio. Urban Geography, 36, 528–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hancke, B. (2012). European Car Manufacturers’ Latest Crisis Is Only One Part of the Industry’s Two-Decades of Restructuring and Decline. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2012/10/26/european-car-manufacturers-crisis/. Accessed 25 June 2018.
  22. Holmes, T. (2011). The Case of the Disappearing Large-Employer Manufacturing Plants: Not Much of a Mystery After All. https://www.minneapolisfed.org/publications/the-region/the-case-of-the-disappearing-largeemployer-manufacturing-plants-not-much-of-a-mysteryafter-all. Accessed 3 Nov 2018.
  23. Kidder, W. (1995). Willow Run: Colossus of American Industry. Lansing, MI: KFT.Google Scholar
  24. Kliet, T., & Rubenstein, J. (2013). Restructuring of the U.S. Auto Industry in the 2008–2009 Recession. Economic Development Quarterly, 27(2), 144–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Labeeuw, V., Versluys, H., Verbeeck, J., & Rams, C. (n.d.). Circular Economy in the Region of Genk. Government of Flanders Public Waste Agency. https://www.bureau-europa.nl/documents/Genk-circular-economy.pdf. Accessed 2 Aug 2018.
  26. Lawrence, E. (2017, January 20). Feds Pick Willow Run Site for Self-Driving Designation. Detroit Free Press. https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/auto-leadership/2017/01/19/willow-run-self-driving-cars/96798218/. Accessed 25 July 2018.
  27. Lichtenstein, B. (2012). As Goes Janesville. Film documentary produced by 371 Productions, Kartemquin Films and the Independent Television Service. Google Scholar
  28. Little, P. (2012). Environmental Justice Discomfort and Disconnect in IBM’s Tainted Birthplace: A Micropolitical Ecology Perspective. Capitalism, Socialism and Nature, 23, 92–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McKinsey & Company. (2013). The Road to 2020 and Beyond: What’s Driving the Global Automotive Industry? Stuttgart: McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/Automotive%20and%20Assembly/PDFs/McK_The_road_to_2020_and_beyond.ashx. Accessed 28 July 2018.
  30. Michigan Aerospace Foundation. (n.d.). Our History. http://michiganaerospace.org/our-history. Accessed 26 July 2018.
  31. OECD. (2015). Employment and Skills Strategies in Flanders, Belgium. OECD Reviews on Local Job Creation. OECD. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264228740-en. Accessed 25 June 2018.
  32. Opel. (n.d.). Key Facts. https://www.opel.com/company/locations.html. Accessed 2 Aug 2018.
  33. Opel. (2018a). Opel and IG Metall/Works Council Agree on Measures for Improved Competitiveness and Investments. https://media.groupe-psa.com/en/opel-and-ig-metallworks-council-agree-measures-improved-competitiveness-and-investments. Accessed 11 Aug 2018.
  34. Opel. (2018b). Nine Additional Centers of Competence for Engineering Center at Opel in Rüsselsheim. https://int-media.opel.com/en/03-22-engineering-center. Accessed 11 Aug 2018.
  35. Peeters, L., & Vancauteren, M. (2012). Studie van de economische impact van de sluiting van Ford Genk. Kenniscentrum voor Ondernemerschap en Innovatie (KIZOK), Hasselt University. https://www.auhl.be/Documents/KIZOK/Impactstudie.pdf. Accessed 25 June 2018.
  36. Peterson, S. (2013). Planning the Home Front: Building Bombers and Communities at Willow Run. Chicago: University of Chicago.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Reuters. (2014). Insight-as Ford Closes, European Rust Belt Seeks New Ideas. https://www.reuters.com/article/eu-investment-rustbelt/insight-as-ford-closes-european-rust-belt-seeks-new-ideas-idUSL6N0U21X020141221. Accessed 25 June 2018.
  38. RHA. (2013). Opel-Flächen in Bochum: Dokumentation des Workshops. Dortmund: Reicher Haase Associierte GmbH.Google Scholar
  39. Rothman, J. (2017, May 19). “Janesville” and the Costs of American Optimism. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/janesville-and-the-dangers-of-american-optimism. Accessed 26 June 2018.
  40. Rychewaert, M. (2011). Building the Economic Backbone of the Belgian Welfare State: Infrastructure, Planning and Architecture 1945–1973. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers.Google Scholar
  41. Savethebomberplant.org. The Willow Run Bomber Plant: Save a Piece of History. http://www.savethebomberplant.org/save-a-piece-of-history/. Accessed 25 July 2018.
  42. Schilling, J., & Logan, J. (2008). Greening the Rust Belt. Journal of the American Planning Association, 74, 451–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shaffer, J. (2017). A Case Study of the Underlying Causes and Implications of the 2014 Landmark GM-Opel Automobile Plant Closure in Bochum, Germany. Georgia Southern University Honors Program Theses, Georgia Southern University.Google Scholar
  44. Sorensen, C. (1956). My Forty Years with Ford. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  45. Stadt Bochum. (2014). Bochum Wittener Strasse: Städtebaulicher Realisierungswettbewerb gemäss RPW 2013. Bochum: Stadtplanungs- und Bauordnungsamt. https://geoinfo.bochum.de/61/Projekte/Mark517/WittenerStr_Doku.pdf. Accessed 25 June 2018.
  46. Stevenson, R. (1993, September 27). Ford Sets Its Sights on a ‘World Car.’ New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1993/09/27/business/ford-sets-its-sights-on-a-world-car.html. Accessed 25 June 2018.
  47. PMV. (2018). The Ford Genk Site. PMV. http://www.pmv.eu/en/ford-genk-site. Accessed 2 Aug 2018.
  48. UTE. (2018). UTE: Das Detroit Projekt. Union-Theatres-Europe.Eu. https://www.union-theatres-europe.eu/das_detroit_projekt. Accessed 2 Aug 2018.
  49. Van Butsele, S., Toebak, K., Beosiere, F., Coelmont, I., Maes, K., & Van de Water, E. (2015, May). Intergovernmental Partnership, Assemble Together. Paper presented at REAL CORP 2015, 20th International Conference on Urban Planning and Regional Development in the Information Society, Ghent/Belgium. https://www.corp.at/archive/CORP2015_95.pdf. Accessed 25 June 2018.
  50. Walsh, D. (2018, April 4). American Center for Mobility Opening at Willow Run Touted as Crucial for Autonomous Future. Crain’s Detroit Business. http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20180404/news/657026/american-center-for-mobility-opening-at-willow-run-touted-as-crucial. Accessed 25 July 2018.
  51. Weber, A. (2001). A Historical Perspective. Assembly Magazine. https://www.assemblymag.com/articles/83393-a-historical-perspective. Accessed 25 July 2018.
  52. Willowrunirport.com. (n.d.). Willow Run Airport. https://www.willowrunairport.com/cargo. Accessed 2 Aug 2018.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Luescher
    • 1
  • Sujata Shetty
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering, Department of Architecture and Environmental DesignBowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  2. 2.Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center, Department of Geography and PlanningThe University of ToledoToledoUSA

Personalised recommendations