Banker who helped bring GM to Maury Co. reflects on past - WKRN News 2

Banker who helped bring GM to Maury Co. reflects on past

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Waymon Hickman Waymon Hickman

SPRING HILL, Tenn. - Workers at the General Motors assembly plant in Spring Hill are waiting on pins and needles.

GM is proposing phasing out 16 factories, and employees could find out Monday if their city's plant is on the list.      

Friday, News 2 talked with a local man who was instrumental in bringing the plant to Maury County more than two decades ago.      

In 1985, the county had lost a lot of its industry, unemployment was close to 20% and residents were in need of jobs.

Waymon Hickman, a local banker, got a call from then Governor Lamar Alexander, who told him GM was looking for a site to build a new plant.

According to Hickman, the governor had said to him, "We need someone to be a coordinator. They are looking at several states, and it has to be on a confidential basis."

Hickman said it was kept confidential.

GM visited 40 states and considered more than 1,000 communities before selecting Spring Hill.

Hickman said, "At the time, it was listed as probably the largest investment, other than utility companies, that had ever been made in our nation."

GM chose Maury County for many reasons, including location and a good workforce.

"We had standing room only at Columbia State to welcome GM to Tennessee," said Hickman.

Now, 20 years later, the Spring Hill GM plant is an economic engine that fuels local businesses and employs nearly 4,000 people.

With GM on the verge of bankruptcy, there is fear the factory could be in jeopardy of closing.

Hickman does not know whether GM will choose to close the plant and says it could go either way.

He is hoping for the best and believes a bright future could be in store for the plant he helped bring to Tennessee.

"If we can survive, I think we'll see more things being made in Spring Hill manufacturing than you are seeing today," he said.

On Monday, GM is expected to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as well as announce which plants it will close.

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