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GM’s shuttered Louisiana plant

The trust responsible for former General Motors properties has agreed to sell a shuttered factory near Shreveport, La., to a start-up carmaker that plans to hire 1,500 new workers.

Elio Motors has agreed to buy the former assembly and stamping plant in Caddo Parish, where the automaker made the Hummer H3 and midsize pickups, from the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response (RACER) Trust.

The deal was heralded by Louisiana politicians as an economic victory for a community devastated by GM’s contraction. The state was expected to provide incentives for the project, but details were not immediately available.

RACER said Elio plans to use 1 million square feet of the 1.8-million-square-foot property to manufacture three-wheeled vehicles. Officials said production would start in mid-2014. A Shreveport TV station quoted a local politician as saying the plant would not be unionized. On its website, Elio doesn’t list information about its investors but describes its $6,800 vehicles as “the next big thing in transportation.”

The company sought to raise $10 million in a fall 2011 offering, but raised only $150,000 initially, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The company’s cars, which will have two wheels in the front, will get an average of more than 60 m.p.g. and will come with three airbags, according to the company.

“There were three driving factors in the purchase of the plant: The business-friendly economic environment; the quality of the local experienced workforce, and our unwavering commitment to build Elio vehicles in America, with American workers,” Elio CEO Paul Elio said in a statement. “We can’t wait to begin our journey in Louisiana.”

GM, which most recently made the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon at the plant, stopped production in August. The company gave up the property in 2009 as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization and then leased it back from the trust until it stopped production last year.

RACER declined to reveal details about the transaction but said it has now sold 25 former GM properties for $27 million. The trust, which was assigned responsibility for 89 former GM properties in 14 states, is still trying to sell sites such as the Willow Run powertrain plant in Ypsilanti Township and the Buick City sites in Flint.


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