Pawlenty to plead case for St. Paul Ford plant in Detroit

  • Updated: January 3, 2006 - 10:39 AM

Before Ford Motor Co. executives announce which production plants are pegged for closure, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will make a personal appeal to keep St. Paul's plant running.

Pawlenty, Economic Development Commissioner Matt Kramer and Chief of Staff David Gaither are scheduled to travel Wednesday to Detroit, where they expect to meet with senior Ford executives. They plan to propose converting the St. Paul Ranger truck plant into a production facility for vehicles that run on alternative fuels like ethanol, Kramer said Tuesday.

Published reports in December said the St. Paul plant was on a list of North American factories slated for closure. Ford officials have said the company is working on a restructuring plan and will reveal details this month.

"I don't think the decision has already been made," Kramer said.

The St. Paul plant employs nearly 2,000 people.

Pawlenty, speaking on WCCO-AM, said Minnesota would be willing to put up some money for research and technology on renewable-fuel cars, such as hybrid cars or cars that run on ethanol or biodiesel.

Pawlenty has been a vocal proponent of renewable fuels and pushed government agencies to add flexible-fuel vehicles to their fleet. His official state vehicle is a Chevrolet Suburban that runs on 85 percent ethanol.

"Minnesota could become a showcase of how you change consumer behavior," Kramer said.

Kramer said the Minnesota delegation won't be presenting a specific package of financial incentives. He said he is interested in hearing first-hand about what Ford officials would need to keep the plant open.

Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari said the company won't comment on the effect such visits might have or which other public officials have made trips to Ford headquarters.

"We talk with the officials in our plant community cities all the time," she said.

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