Governor Chet Culver is open to the idea of state help for car dealers being forced to close or reduce operations because of decisions from Chrysler and General Motors. The two automakers recently announced hundreds of dealers will lose their francises. It means those dealers will no longer be allowed to sell G.M. or Chrysler vehicles.
"The first thing we have to do is identify those dealerships and try to work with them just like we do with any company that is going through a tough time," Culver says. "So I do plan on working with the Department of Economic Development in reaching out to those small businesses (and) the larger car dealers and seeing what we can do to help not only them but their employees."
Culver suggests Iowans who work at a car dealership and lose their job may be eligible for some level of state assistance if they enroll in a course to gain new job skills.
"We have wonderful training programs, obviously, through our community colleges. We can get those up and running relatively quickly," Culver says. "Unfortunately, we’ve been through this with some other, larger employers in the state and we’re just going to be vigilant here to try to help."
The governor, though, says it’s not just those who work at car dealerships who may be losing their jobs if these dealers and automakers falter.
"The other concern is the supply chain related to auto manufacturers throughout our state…the smaller businesses that often supply the larger auto manufacturers," Culver says, "so we’re going to try to network with them as well."
Iowa has about 146 businesses which make auto parts, employing an estimated 11,000 Iowans.