Video: GM hits at heart of Georgia town

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 11/21/2005 7:37:31 PM ET 2005-11-22T00:37:31

"General Motors is Doraville, and Doraville is General Motors," says Doraville Mayor Ray Jenkins.

In this busy Atlanta suburb, home to 10,000 people who call it simply "a good place to live," the news of Monday's plant closings and layoffs was bad, but not unexpected.

"We had hoped that they would look at this plant and keep it open," says Jenkins.

A large chunk of Doraville's budget, about a third of the property taxes, and its very identity, which rose on the fields of an old dairy farm in 1947, is falling away.

And it's being felt all around town.

"It's just the relationship with the customers I'm going to lose," says Waffle House manager Tyricko Duckett. "They're just like family to me."

The announced closing of the GM Assembly Plant is painful for the 3,000 workers in Doraville.

"I'm 24 years old, and I'm making the same kind of money that my parents make," says plant worker Patrice Baker. "I can't make this kind of money anywhere else."

But many are optimistic about the future, like at Galloway's hardware, the city's oldest business, which opened a year before General Motors arrived.

"Twenty years ago that would've been a death knell for us," says owner Tommy Galloway. "But now, I don't think so."

That's because other businesses have moved here and have thrived, making the city less dependent on the good fortunes of just one company. And because Doraville has grown up and out in the nearly six decades since the GM plant came to town, experts say demand for the property is so great, they don't anticipate that it will sit idle for very long.

"Maybe one day it will be knocked down and condos will be built there and townhouses," says Jeffrey Rosensweig. a professor at Emory University's Goizueta Business School.

Hand-in-hand for all these years, one small city and one giant automaker are now letting go. And life around here, though different, will go on.

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