Ford Motor Company dropped the economic equivalent of the atomic bomb on Hazelwood this year when the carmaker announced plans to close its north county plant and remove 2,750 jobs from the fifth-largest municipality in St. Louis County. But Hazelwood Mayor T.R. Carr is no ordinary mayor. He's also professor and chairman of the Public Administration and Policy Analysis Department at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Keeping the plant open looked like a whopper of a class project. Carr knows the big-picture dynamics and the inner workings affecting the decision. He knows keeping the plant open didn't depend on incentives within the reach of the Hazelwood City Council. So Carr went regional, soliciting Governor Bob Holden, County Executive Buzz Westfall, the Ford plant manager and the United Auto Workers union. Carr isn't grandstanding for the media and voters; in fact he's kept a low profile. He wants nuts-and-bolts solutions for increasing the Hazelwood plant's productivity and profit so Ford will change its mind. And though the plant may well ultimately close, it's a good bet that the professor's real-world research will at least delay what might be inevitable.