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Published: Sunday, 5/31/2009

Mayor discusses Toledo's prospects in CNN interview


New automobiles will be produced by Italian automaker Fiat S.p.A. at the Toledo Jeep Assembly complex while the city continues to diversify with alternative energy, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said during an interview with CNN anchor T.J. Holmes Saturday.

"Chrysler built a state-of-the- art manufacturing plant here for the Wrangler and the Liberty just about a decade ago," Mr. Finkbeiner said. "The Italians have already been here, the Fiat people have already been here looking at that wonderful, versatile assembly line."

The mayor said Toledoans are "very confident" there would be new vehicles built in Toledo late this year or in 2010.

Mr. Finkbeiner appeared yesterday by satellite on CNN Saturday Morning along with Warren, Mich., Mayor Jim Fouts, who said he's initiated a campaign to persuade General Motors to move from the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit and relocate to his nearby suburban city.

The two mayors were questioned by Mr. Holmes on how the downfall of the automotive industry has stricken their cities.

Mr. Finkbeiner was upbeat about the industry.

"We are confident once this Chrysler and General Motors bankruptcy time frame passes, we'll be strong, but in the meantime, we are not resting on our laurels," he said.

Chrysler could learn tomorrow if it may proceed with a plan to sell most of the company to a group headed by Italy's Fiat.

General Motors has not confirmed it will ask for bankruptcy protection.

"We've moved on to alternative energies," Mr. Finkbeiner said. "We are the center of solar energy here in the United States of America and we think alternative, clean, green energy is the wave of the future."

- Ignazio Messina

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