$3.5 million needed to save 'Rosie the Riveter' factory

A Michigan nonprofit group is scrambling to raise $3.5 million by Thursday to save the "Rosie the Riveter" plant, a World War II-era factory west of Detroit.

The Willow Run Bomber Plant churned out thousands of B-24 Liberator bomber planes during the global conflict. It employed thousands of women, including Rose Will Monroe, a Kentucky native who later became a symbol of female empowerment.


Monroe starred in a film and was the public face of the thousands of women who took up factory jobs during World War II when men were deployed to war.

Posters from the era show Monroe rolling up her sleeve, arm flexed, with the slogan, "We can do it!" printed atop.

The Michigan Aerospace Foundation is looking to raise a total of $8 million to save part of the plant and convert into a new home for the Yankee Air Museum, its sister organization. The foundation has already raised $4.5 million, it said.

The remaining amount, $3.5 million, must be raised by Thursday.

"Time is short, the fund-raising goal ambitious, and the stakes high," the foundation said on its website.

Organizers of the campaign "Save the Willow Run Bomber Plant" say $50 will help preserve one square-foot of the historic factory.

They are banking on the cachet of Rosie the Riveter to spur donations:

"Just as the Willow Run workers helped win World War II, we can do this!" the foundation said in its fund-raising plea.

Monroe died in 1997 at the age of 77.