When General Motors closed its Shreveport, La., plant in 2012 as part of its bankruptcy restructuring, it eliminated nearly 1,000 jobs.
A year later, auto startup Elio Motors took over almost half of the plant's 4 million square feet to manufacture its three-wheel cars.
"The plant was in great condition and all of GM's machinery was still there for reuse," said IRG's Lichter.
Elio, based in Troy, Mich., expects to begin commercial production of its $6,800 car in 2015, producing as many as 250,000 vehicles a year at the plant.
"It's been good for us and good for Shreveport," said Paul Elio, founder of Elio Motors, who said the company plans to hire 1,500 workers by the time production is in full swing.