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County commissioners want to buy GM plant

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By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

Midwest City, Okla. -- Two years after shutting down, there are plans for the Oklahoma City General Motors plant to come back to life, but not as an auto manufacturing facility.

Oklahoma County leaders pitched Tuesday a plan to buy the plant and then lease it to Tinker Air Force Base. Officials said they plan to ask voters to approve an $87 million bond issue this spring, $55 million of which would be used to purchase the old General Motors plant.

"We will then lease this facility to Tinker on a long-term lease," County Commissioner Ray Vaughn said. "It will greatly expand its repair, its maintenance, and its manufacturing activities."

Tinker officials say they would have to invest millions of dollars of their own money to modify the GM facilities for their use, but say it would be worth it.

"It represents a significant improvement in productivity with benefits for years to come," said Major General Loren Reno, Commander of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center.

The plan would allow Tinker to move out of dozens of outdated facilities, be more efficient, and compete better with other installations.

"So, if we can allow Tinker to be more efficient, more effective, more productive, it's going to enable more workload to come here," said Kirk Humphreys of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.

Officials estimate the cost of the bond issue to a family living in a $100,000 home, to be $9.85 a year.

They said considering Tinker's economic impact on the city and the state, and everything else this would do, the cost is worth it.

The Tinker-GM project is just one of five projects being proposed in this bond election, but at $55 million, it's the largest.

Other projects include the renovation of the Oklahoma County Courthouse and construction of a new Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension service facility.

Wednesday, County Commissioners plan to call for a May 13 bond election.

They say, if it's approved, Tinker could take possession of the GM plant by the end of the summer.

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