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North American Industrial Plant Closings Cooled In 2006

Surge in start-ups helped offset 2006 closings.

Keeping to trend, there were more industrial plant closing in North American last year than start-ups. But, according to research from Industrial Info Resources, the rate of the shut-downs decreased, helped by strong new plant construction trends in several industries.

Industrial Info, a marketing information service company, said 562 plants were shuttered last year, a 38-percent reduction in closures versus 2005. The rate of shrinkage in 2006 was less than previous years, as 503 plants started operating during the year.

Among the industries seeing plant growth were alternative fuels, pharmaceuticals and biotech, and power. Industrial Info said the alternative fuels industry saw 19 new plants come online, with no plant closures. The power industry had 64 new plants come online during 2006, compared with seven that closed.

Included in some of the more high-profile plant closures last year was Ford Motor’s assembly plant in Hazelwood, Missouri, and General Motors’ assembly plant in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Georgia-Pacific closed four plants in the U.S., including one in Michigan, one in Georgia, and two in Maine.

On the flip side, Toyota started operation of a new $800 million truck and SUV assembly plant in San Antonio, Texas. Also, in Mississippi, a new 730-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant owned by Tractebel Power began operations in Chester.

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