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Friday, October 28, 2005

Ford under watch


No word yet on whether local plant will close

Staff Writer Oct. 27, 2005

WALTON HILLS —  They're holding their breath and crossing their fingers.

After Ford Motor Co. announced there will be significant layoffs and plant closings in January, the status of the Ford stamping plant in Walton Hills remains uncertain.

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don't know what kind of good news to put out there," said Robert Ebert, a professor of economics at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea.

"Some plants (in Ohio) will survive," he said. "Which ones, we're not sure. I'd place a bet on the one in Avon Lake. Some others will survive, too. We don't know which ones are high on the list of closers.

"It's a frightening situation," Ebert said. "The holiday season is always a tough time of the year. But I'm sure there will be a lot of careful pencil sharpening in the next few months at Ford."

Ford previously announced that its assembly plant in Lorain will close at the end of the year. Other Ford plants in Ohio include those in Brook Park, Lima and Sharonville in southern Ohio.

"Everybody (at Ford) is tight-lipped. That's frustrating," Walton Hills Councilman William Allen said. "But our plant supplies the one in Avon Lake, which is relatively stable. That's encouraging."

The Walton Hills plant used to account for about half the village's revenue. Now, it is around 15-25 percent. Ford divided the building in half about two years ago. One side is virtually vacant. Fewer than 600 employees work there today.

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