This is what some the city's former residents have to say about Flint now:
Michael Moore, former editor, Flint Voice; producer, Roger & Me; now a film and TV producer living in New York:
'I don't understand why GM can't follow the example of Ford and become a good corporate citizen. The Ford Motor Co., whatever its faults may be - and they do exist - has not had a single walkout by its union in the last 20 years. They respect the union, they treat the union well, they respect the workers - to the extent that any company does in this country - and its chairman, the young Mr. Ford, is on the record as a person who is a concerned environmentalist, and I only wish that Flint was the hometown of Ford instead of General Motors.'
William Johnson, former head of the Urban League office in Flint; now mayor of Rochester, N.Y., headquarters to corporate giants Eastman-Kodak Co., Xerox Corp. and Bausch & Lomb Co., where unemployment is less than 4 percent:
'I feel badly about a place where I still have many, many friends and where I lived. Flint is a `company' town, singular. Rochester is a `companies' town.
'We're more diversified, and therefore we're not subject to the same pressures that have really torn Flint apart. When I moved to Rochester in 1972, the population of the two cities was almost the same; it might have been 2,000 different. (Now Flint's population is about 140,000, and Rochester's is about 231,000.) The decline in population (of Flint) can be almost linked one-for-one with the reduction in jobs.'
Michael Bennett, former president of UAW Local 326 at the former GM Coldwater Road components plant; former president of UAW Local 1853 at the Saturn Corp. complex in Spring Hill, Tenn.:
'Flint has great assets in terms of attracting industry. But they haven't been able to get out of their rut; not enough has happened at the right times and in the right places. There has to be more of a community effort.
'(In Spring Hill), sleeping with a giant like Saturn is as difficult as it was for Flint to get involved with General Motors. It's become domination; the city has grown from about 1,500 people 12 years ago to around 8,000 now. It's been going through its growing pains (and) is heavily influenced by the auto-factory setting.'
Alex Kotlowitz, former colleague of Moore at the Flint Voice; author of the best-selling book, The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America's Dilemma, and most recently, There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America, about St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, Mich.; now living in Oak Park, Ill.:
'I don't sense any real commitment from GM to the community. That's what the community struggles with. They have a great benefactor like GM, and then suddenly GM has decided its place is elsewhere in the country and the world.
'And now Flint struggles to find its own place with this great benefactor clearly not as committed as they thought it was. They're also fearful that if they offend GM in some way it's only going to make matters worse. It leaves you paralyzed.'