DRIVER'S SEAT

Auto Towns Back From the Brink

It's been a year since the Obama administration swooped in to rescue GM and Chrysler and the investment is showing signs of paying off. Losses have stabilized and sales are back on the rise after a devastating collapse sparked by the financial meltdown. With the companies' improved outlook comes a slow revival for the towns that draw their livelihood from the auto industry, The Wall Street Journal reports. In Flora, Illinois, pop. 4,772, factories rehired 400 of 550 laid off workers once the car companies had made their way out of bankruptcy court. Related businesses like the Best Western hotel and local appliance stores are picking up as well. The companies still have a long way to go—currently auto plants are working at 54.4 percent of capacity, well below normal rates of up to 80 percent but much better than their low point of 36.8 percent last June.