Toledo, Ohio – Chrysler president and vice-chairman Tom LaSorda held a community town hall meeting at the Toledo Supplier Park in Toledo, Ohio on Wednesday to rally support for the U.S. auto industry. The meeting highlighted the industry’s impact on towns across the country.

LaSorda was joined by Toledo mayor Carty Finkbeiner, the president of the local UAW, plant employees, representatives from car carrier companies, and community members.

“We are talking about neighbourhood streets and auto plant streets,” LaSorda said. “This is where the true work begins. This isn’t about Joe the Plumber. This is about Joe and Josephine, the autoworker. Chrysler has deep roots in Toledo, the birthplace of Jeep. The Jeep brand’s military heritage is a reminder of why America needs a strong manufacturing base if it is going to continue to be a world leader. A strong U.S.-based automotive industry is also the backbone of the nation’s economy.”

In 2007, Chrysler had nearly 8,000 employees and retirees in Ohio, along with 625 suppliers, 170 dealers, and paid more than US$15 million in state taxes while providing more than US$737 million in wages and pensions.

LaSorda made it clear that the request to Congress was for a bridge loan, which the company believes it could start repaying with interest in 2012. “We recognize that this is a significant amount of public money,” LaSorda said. “However, we believe this is the least costly alternative, considering the depth of the economic crisis and the options we face.”

The rally is part of a “Virtual Road Show” that the company is taking to stakeholders in seven states in three days.

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