August 22, 2014

Elyria
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State submits plan to Ford

AVON LAKE — The Ohio Department of Development is putting together a package of incentives that will be presented to Ford Motor Co. in hopes of staving off the possible closure of the Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake.Gov. Ted Strickland and Lt. Gov. Lee

Fisher, who doubles as director of the Department of Development, recently traveled to Detroit where they met with key officials at Ford to express their support of keeping the Avon Lake plant open, said Melissa Ament, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Development.

A number of possible incentives available through the state were discussed, however, details of what that package entails are not available, Ament said.

Any incentive package from the state will be in addition to one being touted by the city that includes a plan to extend Pin Oak Parkway from Moore Road to Miller Road, abating the company’s taxes for 10 years and contributing $400,000 toward the project.

Recently, a story published in The Detroit News indicated that during recent contract talks, Ford officials floated the possibility of keeping open some plants slated for closure — including the Avon Lake plant — in exchange for concessions from the national arm of the United Auto Workers.

Ament wouldn’t say the incentive package was a result of that story. Rather, she said the Department of Development stays in constant contact with Ford and the state’s other large employers.

Beyond saying that contract negotiations are under way, neither the UAW nor Ford will comment on the future of the Avon Lake plant. The plant employs 2,579 workers, according to Ford’s Web site.

“Everything that is being read or heard is all speculation,” said Anne Marie Gattari, spokeswoman for Ford Motor Co. “While we appreciate all the interest from all plant communities, we have no announcement to make at this time.”

Ford has said it plans to close 16 factories by 2012 as a part of a restructuring plan. Six have already have been idled and plans to close four more are in the works. However, Ford has not named the last six publicly, leaving many cities — including Avon Lake — to wonder about a shutdown.

Avon Lake Mayor Rob Berner said Ford has made it clear that the future of the plant depends on the union talks.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 653-6268 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.