GRHC - December 21st, 2011
For months in 1935, during the Depression, the news that General Motors would open a new plant in Grand Rapids was kept secret under penalty that the project would be cancelled if news was leaked. Finally, announced in December, it was GM's Christmas present to the city.
A few days before Christmas in1935, during the depths of the Great Depression, newsboys from the morning Herald and evening Press waved extras while yelling at the top of their lungs, “READ ALL ABOUT IT, GM TO BUILD HERE, MERRY CHRISTMAS!”
In October General Motors had made an initial survey of the community. They were reviewing information John R. Cassleman had submitted about potential sites and the benefits of Grand Rapids and its excellent workforce. Cassleman, Industrial Commissioner for the Chamber for Commerce, had concealed project negotiations from everyone except George Tilma, Wyoming Township supervisor, and George Welsh, former Grand Rapids city manager.
General Motors had sworn these three men to absolute secrecy and warned if any rumors about the venture surfaced, negotiations would be called off and the project would end immediately and for good. When someone noticed boring rigs drilling for soil samples on Clyde Park Ave., a rumor started that a major oil find had been discovered. Cassleman never discouraged that rumor.
On December 20th, GM lifted the veil of secrecy and announced that the new Fisher Body Stamping Plant was a Christmas present to the citizens of Grand Rapids and its environs.
A month later nearly two thousand local men began work on the massive construction project. Within a year from the date of the Christmas present, 2100 employees were working in the plant, and 85 to 90 railroad carloads were being shipped from it every day.
|Keywords||WYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; General Motors; Christmas; 1935; John R. Cassleman|
|Pubdate String||December 21st, 2011|