Affinia Closing Indiana Auto Parts Plant

Facility closure in Mishawaka will eliminate 190 jobs; mayor says town feels a 'little burned.'

MISHAWAKA, Ind. (AP) — Auto parts maker Affinia Group Inc. has decided to close its northern Indiana factory and cut about 190 jobs.
 
The company chose to keep an Oklahoma plant open despite efforts by city officials to work with Affinia to avoid the factory closing, Mayor Jeff Rea said.
 
Affinia officials began talking with Mishawaka leaders months ago as it began considering whether to consolidate the plants. Rea, however, said it did not find out about Affinia's decision until he was called by a South Bend Tribune reporter.
 
''We feel a little burned,'' Rea said Friday. ''We invested a lot of time with them.''
 
Affinia announced it would close the chassis products manufacturing and packaging facility, which is a former Dana Corp. plant, by mid-2008.
 
''This closure in no way reflects on the talents or dedication of the 192 hard-working people of Mishawaka,'' John R. Washbish, president of Affinia's Under Vehicle Group, said in a statement. ''We deeply regret the impact on the lives of our employees and their families.''
 
Washbish said Affinia would provide the option of employees transferring to the Oklahoma City factory, as well as local job placement and career assistance.
 
Rea said that city officials had been working with the Indiana Economic Development Corp., but that Oklahoma provided some incentives that Indiana simply couldn't match.
 
For example, Oklahoma offered to pay for moving trucks to travel to Mishawaka, load up the necessary equipment and transport it to Oklahoma, he said.
 
Rea said that while he knew of no immediate plans for the Affinia property, he believed it was in a good location in the city just east of South Bend.
 
''I think our area's still very strong,'' Rea said. ''And we see folks still want to grow here.''
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