A special task force looking for ways to keep Missouri as a viable player in the auto industry has delivered its report to the governor, even as the industry faces unprecedented problems.
"We certainly knew there were thunder clouds on the horizon," Nixon told the Missourinet, "but the depth of this and the bankruptcies of the major auto makers and things of that nature, I don’t know that anybody could have accurately predicted how dramatic those shifts would be."
The task force had 21 members from a wide range of backgrounds, representing all parts of the state. Representatives of General Motors and Ford as well as the United Auto Workers were on the task force. The task force makes many broad recommendations, broken down into specific proposals.
The final report recommends Missouri support emerging technology, especially those pushing alternative fuel vehicles, so-called "green" technology. It says the state needs to provide enhanced training of auto workers so that they can adapt to changes in the industry. Resources should be provided to automotive companies that hope to upgrade technology and diversify, according to the report. It also calls for the state to consider new economic incentives to increase the state’s competitiveness for new automotive investment. Finally, the report says Missouri must find a way to put vacant auto factories back into production.
News about the auto industry in Missouri the past few years has been negative, but Nixon sees some good signs developing.
"I am encouraged about the future in Missouri," Nixon said." I think the fact that we were able to land Smith Electric, the fact that we are going to a third shift at Ford on their their hybrid Escape, those are all the beginnings of significant good signs for the future of the auto industry in Missouri."
The task force report states that only decisive action will rescue and revitalize Missouri’s automotive industry.