BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — The president of the local UAW is hopeful that the idled Stellantis plant in Belvidere could reopen as part of the negotiations between the union and the “Big 3” Detroit automakers.

He said earlier this week that it is all about product. Belvidere Mayor Clinton Morris said that these contract negotiations are on everybody’s mind, but he is optimistic that there will once again be an auto manufacturer in the city.

“This is a huge industry here and a huge economic part of our engine. You know, this is a driver for our engine, and we want to keep it,” Morris said. “We want to keep it here in Belvidere. I know I do.”

Belvidere’s Stellantis plant was one of the biggest employers in Boone County and the stateline. The assembly lines went idle early this year, which affected hundred of workers. Morris said this was not the first time that the plant had gone quiet.

“We have seen it before. Maybe not to this extent, where they’ve actually completely closed,” he said.

Morris stressed that the Belvidere-area still has all of the same things that made Chrysler want to locate there in 1965.

“I am optimistic because I think that, you know, we have a lot of things going for us that Stellantis will want,” he said. “We’re close to [I-88] to 90, of course, I-39, and geographically, we’re in the central of the United States. We have rail service here, we have affordable water, we have reliable power.”

It has been a challenging time for Belvidere residents. The impact from the Stellantis plant’s shutdown is widespread.

“It is something that affects the city,” Morris said. “It certainly affects us with employment opportunity. It affects us with supplier employment opportunity, and it also affects us with being able to court, you know, other opportunity.”

Morris hopes that both sides find some common ground through these contract talks that will benefit all.

“Now that they are actually finally negotiating what’s been out of our hands, it will now be in their hands,” Morris said. “It will be up to them to be able to come to an agreement, and I certainly think we’ve done everything possible that we could do on a local, especially on a local and state level.”

Morris said that the worst-case scenario, if the deal does not go through is, is to plan to find someone that will utilize the building, hopefully in the manufacturing industry.