Lessons Learned from Elio Motors and Pontiac, Michigan

Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover tweeted this picture from the news conference, saying, "Welcome to #Shreveport Paul Elio and #ElioMotors!!! #ShreveportJobs"
Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover tweeted this picture from the news conference, saying, "Welcome to #Shreveport Paul Elio and #ElioMotors!!! #ShreveportJobs"

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Like Shreveport, the city of Pontiac, Michigan also suffered from a shutdown of General Motors plant that cost hundreds of jobs.

Also like Shreveport, Elio Motors eyed Pontiac, Michigan to set up shop there promising jobs.

Today, the news conference at the old GM plant in Shreveport was welcome news in an area affected by eight hundred jobs lost in August of 2012.

Leaders, one after the other representing surrounding cities, the state of Louisiana and the federal government praised Elio Motors, a company that's promising to bring 1,500 jobs to make a three-wheeled vehicle called the Trikke.

Company leaders said would be ready for production in 18 months.

That's just about the same thing that happened in Pontiac, Michigan almost three years ago.

"Well you have to be cautious," said Joe Szczesny, a reporter with the Oakland Press. "It's an interesting project but you have to be skeptical about whether it can come to fruition."

Szczesny reported in March of 2010 Elio Motor's proposed deal to bring 2,100 jobs by setting up manufacturing operations in an old GM truck plant there.

"I wouldn't say it failed," said Szczesny. "It just never got off the ground. I think he (Paul Elio, founder of Elio Motors) had problems coming the finances."

Paul Elio acknowledged a lack of financing in Pontiac, Michigan, but he also blamed it on a lack of community support.

"It was a different climate," said Elio. "You know how it gets and you just keep working on it sometimes the climate falls into place some times it doesn't."

Elio said the deal in Shreveport includes the right combination government leaders and investments;100 million dollars is the target.

When I asked him if we should be cautious given what happened in Pontiac, he was direct and optimistic.

"You can take it whatever attitude you want the trust is 15-hundred jobs," said Elio. "I think this product will justify those jobs and the proof is in the pudding."

Local leaders like Caddo Parish Ken Epperson agreed.

"I feel that the product we're going to be making here has world appeal," said Epperson. "I am elated Louisiana has the opportunity to be number one in something positive."

But Szczesny is leery about the Shreveport deal. He said major car companies need more than millions (more like one billion dollars) just to launch a new car.

"Well I'd say keep your fingers crossed, but keep your day job," said Szczesny.

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