Campaign underway to save NUMMI

July 28, 2009 7:26:36 PM PDT
An all-out campaign is underway by local and state officials to convince Toyota to keep Fremont's NUMMI plant open. The big concern is the trickle-down effect a shutdown would have across California.

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Bruce Kern from the East Bay Economic Development has been working the phones for more than a week, enlisting support from Redding to San Diego.

He's heading up what they've dubbed a Red Team to convince Toyota not to shut down NUMMI.

Alameda County Supervisors Scott Haggerty and Keith Carson are also leading the campaign. There is plenty of economic reason behind their effort.

"NUMMI represents the number one importer for the Port of Oakland, number one client. It represents the County of Alameda and the City of Fremont's largest property tax provider. It provides quality jobs -- average for across the board is about $65,000 per worker," said Kern.

Despite the budget crisis, the hope is to give NUMMI the kind of tax breaks that could keep them from moving production to another state.

For example, California is one of only three states that taxes equipment when NUMMI re-tools the plant for a new model.

Work shoe store manager Chris McAndrew is backing the campaign.

"It's a pretty big deal here in Fremont. A lot of people work there, help us out all the way down line. It's kind of trickle-down," said McAndrew

Trickle-down includes NUMMI suppliers statewide that employ more than 30,000 people.

"We have over a thousand suppliers, and we believe that the return on those investments and those workers and those jobs pay and overcome any of the costs that we would incur from implementing some of these cost savings to the plant," said Kern.

Fremont residents recognize the stakes are high.

"NUMMI is very important to Fremont. Without NUMMI, Fremont is doomed," said Fremont resident Jesse Ramirez.

The Red Team hopes to have its report done by the end of the week, ready for presentation to NUMMI and to Toyota sometime next week. Failure, they say, is not an option.

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