Visteon Closing Indiana Auto-Parts Plant, 900 To Lose Jobs

Connersville factory was largest employer in the area; shutdown is part of Visteon's plan to fix, close or sell approximately 30 of its facilities

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Visteon Corp. plans to close an eastern Indiana auto-parts plant in September, a move that will idle nearly 900 workers in a county where it has for decades been the largest employer.

Visteon announced the closing of the Connersville plant on Thursday, as part of the company's three-year plan to fix, close or sell about 30 facilities to make the company more globally competitive, said Jim Fisher, a spokesman for the Michigan-based company.

''We've done a very thorough review of this facility,'' Fisher said. ''We do not believe there is a viable business case for continuing to operate it.''

The plant in Connersville, some 60 miles east of Indianapolis, has about 750 hourly and 140 salaried employees. Visteon and union representatives will begin negotiations over severance packages, Fisher said.

The closing announcement wasn't ''a total surprise'' as the plant had seen numerous layoffs in recent years, said Pete Bell, chairman of the Connersville Economic Development Group.

Last September, the company laid off about 140 workers after production cutbacks by Ford Motor Co., its largest customer. Visteon spun off from Ford in 2000.

The Connersville plant was not among several Visteon factories which Ford took back in 2005. Ford announced three weeks ago that one of those former Visteon facilities – a steering systems plant in Indianapolis with about 1,700 workers – would be closed by the end of 2008.

The Connersville factory is the largest employer in eastern Indiana's Fayette County and at its peak employed more than 3,600 people.

The Connersville factory produces climate control products like heating and air conditioning systems for several vehicle manufacturers.

''Some of that work will go away as certain products reach the end of their production run,'' said Kimberley Goode, Visteon's vice president of corporate communications. ''Most of the remaining work will move to other Visteon plants.''

Indiana Department of Workforce Development staff will meet with factory workers next week to discuss unemployment benefits and career retraining, Gov. Mitch Daniels said in a statement.

Visteon also makes interior products and electronics for vehicles. It employees 46,000 people worldwide, including 900 at a plant in Bedford of southern Indiana.

Fisher said Thursday's closing announcement covered only the Connersville plant, but Visteon would continue to review other factories.


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