Business
2:20 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Willow Run Bomber Plant campaign gets more time

A young woman dressed in dark-blue coveralls, her hair tied up with a red-and-white polka-dot bandana, waved to passersby and distributed small postcards during rush hour at a busy Ann Arbor intersection.

Alison Beatty, a political science student at the University of Michigan, got plenty of attention in her Rosie the Riveter costume.

She's a volunteer for a non-profit group that wants to save part of the Willow Run Bomber Plant, which was destined for the wrecking ball.

The plant switched from building automobile power trains to producing B-24 Liberator bombers during World War II. The plant has been closed since December 2010.

Opponents of the demolition want to save a portion of the facility to house the Yankee Air Museum, which was destroyed by fire in 2005 and is now housed in a much smaller facility.

On Wednesday, the trust set up to oversee properties owned by a pre-bankruptcy General Motors announced it will extend the deadline until October 1 to allow fundraisers more time to raise about $8 million to pay for the project.

Beatty says she called SaveTheBomberPlant.org after learning about the effort and asked if she could portray Rosie the Riveter to help.

"As so many people around here know, the Willow Run Bomber Plant was where Henry Ford decided to make one B-24 Liberator bomber an hour until we won the war, or there was no more need for bombers," Beatty says. "They made that happen, they made it a reality. I think it's a piece of history that deserves to be preserved."

Later purchased by General Motors, the plant was slated to be torn down to after G.M. restructured in 2009.

"There are so many pieces of history, so many homes that have turned into parking lots," Beatty laments. "I think a lot of people here should have the chance to say to their grandkids, 'I contributed. I saved that factory and helped make sure that it's a memorial for generations to come.'"