Budd plant

Memo to the Donald: we have a winner!

Ok, this is way late, but better late than never as they say…

As you may remember, back in the glorious hey-day of YPP, there was a contest to submit ideas to Donald Trump for a profitable use of the Budd Plant after the that location was nixed as a possible casino site.

The point of the contest was to encourage alternative uses of the land that would be profitable for an investor like Trump and also suggest some sustainable economic development ideas. The contest had…er…three submissions (myself, DeWitt and Ben I believe) and via Philebrity quoting the Inquirer a month ago (yea! timeliness), it is clear that I won the Trump Apprentice Challenge Philly:

Rotem and Sojitz Corp., a Japanese company, have formed a consortium to build 120 Silverliner V regional railcars for SEPTA for $274 million. The first cars are to be delivered to SEPTA in December 2008, and all 120 will be completed by June 2010… The lease … is for 20 years, and the plant will house Rotem’s U.S. headquarters and employ about 300 workers on an 11.5-acre site on Weccacoe Avenue between Snyder and Oregon Avenues.

This is awesome. Rotem, which seems to be a subsidiary of Hyundai, is opening its first US plant in Philadelphia. They have also signed a contract to build rail cars for a commuter line in California.

My entry to the Philly Apprentice Challenge was inspired by the Kawaski plant in New York that opened in Yonkers to build trolleys for SEPTA and subway cars for NYC. They have been there ever since. So, if we play our cards right, Roten could be around for a while too providing high-wage industrial jobs to Philadelphians in an industry totally poised to expand.

In haughty blog fashion, let me quote myself from my Budd plant entry:

So, to sum up, my proposal to the Donald is that he think about investing some serious resources into what could be a growing niche market: building rail cars for rapid transit lines throughout the country and also for some international customers.

Philadelphia is well located to get its product to any part of the US. We have a history producing rail products with some portion of a trained workforce still alive and able to work. We have a city and state government that might be willing to cut a deal with the right corporation and we have a transit agency in need of new rolling stock that could award a new rapid transit construction corporation with a contract,

I certainly don’t have an MBA, but I think there’s some value in exploring this idea more and helping Philadelphia become a leader once again as a rail car manufacturer and also providing employment for many Philadelphians not to mention a real boost to our local economy.

Well, here is a real life example. Mr. Nutter and Council: make it work; keep Rotem and help them expand.

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