FSM News

In a letter that entails the previous philanthropy of the Parker Pen Company, Mark Freitag, the City Manager made a request to General Motors to fund worth $25 million for the “legacy fund” in order for the community to benefit for over decades.

The Gazette is the receiver of the letter and was addressed to GM’s CEO and chairwoman Mary Barra. The requested amount will be managed by a private entity and will be used to “enhance economic revitalization, improve workforce development, and sustain community development within the city in honor of the many generations of General Motors employees who served you over these more than nine decades.”

The spokesperson of GM Dan Flores confirmed that the letter was obtained. He mentioned that it’s still on reviewing process and “has no position on the request.”


Flores said, “No doubt Janesville has been an important part of GMs history,” He added, “We understand this is a very legitimate request.”

Freitag said he’s unsure of how GM will respond to the said request, however, he thought of this as a “certainly” appropriate way to ask, as the company has shared good times with Janesville and had mutual connection.

The GM runs a plant from 1919 to 2008 within the city, and over 7,000 were employed at its peak. From the year 2008 to 2015, the plant remained empty and unused with a status of “standby”. Meanwhile, it was announced last fall that the plant will officially close. Initiatives for the sale of 250-acre property effectively began this winter.

Furthermore, Freitag clearly announced GM’s approach towards the sale, mainly its strategies in business and the company’s plans on leaving the city for good.

Freitag also mentioned that the city previously shared to GM its likelihood for the company on making a legacy-minded gift like a multi-million endowment or an automobile museum. However, GM authorities never “tipped their hat” on their level of request.

Freitag said, Janesville would not offer any kind of gift in return.

He added, “This is simply asking for their philanthropy and their benevolence to the former workers and community that supported them for nine decades,"


It appears that GM has ever approved such a request like Janesville’s. Flores said, the GM Foundation has made frequent contributions to different communities. However, he was unsure on what Janeswill has requested.   

Freitag stated, the $25 million was initially based on a gift Chrysler paid amounting to $23.6 million. The money was shared to its former workers and families as the operation of Kenosha disclosed.

Moreover, Freitag has been opened in considering the Parker Pen charity as an example of a legacy that will remain positive for many. In 1944, the Parker Pen donated a $1 million gift to the Janesville Foundation with aims on combining it as a whole and that it will support community projects. Meanwhile, the Parker Pen has departed with Janesville in 2009.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said, the said donations is amounting to $13.4 million dollars as of today.

The Janesville Foundation then, has helped improve community projects such as the Janesville School District, including Hedberg Public Library and a few institutions.

Freitag wrote, “The company is remembered fondly for its history in our community and for giving back to the community which tirelessly helped them to prosper,” He added, “It is only right to do so similarly for General Motors.”

The letter entails that the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin will serve as the receiver of the request of worth $25 million endowment. In addition, the group is managing 600 charitable funds amounting over $42 million.