City officials in Belleville, Ill., want General Motors to stop encouraging dealers to leave their city, and told some GM executives just that this month.
Three GM executives, including John Spellen, executive director of dealer network development, visited Belleville July 17 at the request of civic leaders.
GM has told owners of Wagner Buick-GMC and Meyer Pontiac, both in Belleville, that the three franchises should be under one roof, near an interstate highway outside of Belleville, said Rusty Wagner, owner of the Buick-GMC store.
GM's request is part of its channel strategy, also called Project 2000, designed to move dealers to high-traffic areas, create consistent franchise dualing patterns and trim the number of dealerships.
Belleville officials are worried because the city has lost five dealerships - and their tax dollars - to neighboring cities since 1989.
Mayor Mark Kern said 80 percent of the new cars sold in his county are bought by Belleville residents, and dealerships generate about $2 million in tax revenue annually.
GM spokeswoman Ann Marie Sylvester said GM is not forcing dealers to move, and will to work with dealers and communities.