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Pontiac is on the short list of communities that General Motors Corp. is considering for a new 1,200-job engineering facility.

The $380-million, 431,000-square-foot project would entail a consolidation of GM Powertrain's engineering and laboratory facilities now scattered in Ypsilanti, Romulus, Warren and Troy.

Pontiac isn't the only community on the list, and competing, unidentified sites are under study in and out of Michigan, said Darla Park, a GM spokeswoman. She added that the automaker hopes to make a final decision by this summer.

"We're doing this to provide greater efficiency for our staff, which would provide economic benefits for GM and the chosen city and state," Park said.

GM, meanwhile, is also working with Pontiac on a potential creation of a U.S. Postal Service regional facility in the community. Although the Postal Service hasn't decided whether to go ahead with the project, GM is involved because the facility would use some GM landin the same Pontiac North Campus where the powertrain facility would go. If the project goes ahead, Pontiac could gain more than 1,000 new jobs from it, or at least 2,200 from both new projects.

Pontiac Mayor Willie Payne said GM's plan would bolster Pontiac's fortunes in an era when most municipalities are suffering declining revenues.

"We're just as excited with the Postal Service moving to the city of Pontiac. Again, this is going to add to the job market and increase personal and real property," he said. Although governmental facilities don't pay property taxes, their employees will pay the city's income tax.

The Powertrain project came to light after GM filed for a tax abatement in Pontiac in anticipation of awarding the city the new facility. However, despite filing for the abatement, Park said GM is "not that far" into its planning yet. Neither Pontiac's City Council nor GM's board has approved the project yet.

"We're still in the process of developing the business case," Park said. "The business case involves several interdependent variables, which include assessing existing buildings. Other factors are state and local economic incentives. We try to balance all of these together to find the best business case."

The project is the latest in a round of transfers and upgrades as GM continuously reevaluates its facilities and its needs. Just last week, GM asked Warren for a similar tax break, saying the GM Tech Center is on its list for a potential project that would add several hundred new workers -- many of them from existing GM facilities in Pontiac.

The requests for tax breaks in multiple cities and states has led some to criticize all major automakers for pitting communities in a bidding war for jobs. Park denied that was taking place.

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