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Disassembly Line

Closed after 60+ years in operation
Closed after 60+ years in operation

The April, 2009 edition of  The Atlantic featured a two-page schematic on “The unbuilding of an auto plant” near the Hartsfield-Jackson airport in GA.

The story says, “Closing an auto plant is neither quick nor simple, and for a time, the very process of closure creates its own small economy; ultimately, closures can make way for new beginnings. Immediately after the Hapeville plant was formally idled, about 250 workers returned to begin deconstructing the site; more than two years later, demolition and environmental cleanup are still continuing.”

Don’t I know it.  The story of course ties into raging headlines about the shrinking US automotive sector, but it also took me back to my recent past as an owner of an environmental cleaning company where I earned “blood money” closing down Carolinas-based textile plants.  Blood money?  Yes, according to dictionary.com it’s defined as “Money gained at the cost of another’s life or livelihood.”

I have to say, sometimes plants were at their most environmentally compliant during their final shutdowns.  They often skimped on compliance when they were running full bore, but in order to get certificates of occupancy for the next tenants they had wind down the right way.

Writing Prompts:  Financial, Consulting, Environmental, Services

  • With uneven environmental regulations around the world, reflect on operations you’ve seen move to a less-regulated environment and the environmental degradation that ensued.
  • If you are involved in any winding down operations now, how are prices holding up for machinery, equipment and scrap?  Do the locations of the buyers say anything surprising about shifting capital across the globe?
  • The Ford plant in this story will be replaced by a mix of retail and office space, with some airport parking and hotels.  Is this usually the type of development that moves in?  Should it be?
  • What do you observe about the role of local tax and zoning incentives on 1) retaining businesses and                     2) influencing re-development that occurs in situations like this in GA?

About Tamela M. Rich

From Charlotte, NC, Tamela writes books, articles, speeches and presentations for business professionals. From "the road" she writes about the people, places and experiences she discovers and the life lessons she learns from them. Invite her to share some of her lessons from the road at your next event!

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