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Maytag Won’t Reconsider Ill. Closing

November 18, 2002

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GALESBURG, Ill. (AP) _ Opponents of the planned closing of Maytag’s Galesburg plant finally got the meeting they wanted Monday and the answer they expected.

Company executives declined to reconsider the shutdown of the refrigerator production plant despite a request from local officials in the first face-to-face meeting since last month’s surprise announcement.

Area political and business leaders said they were disappointed but not surprised that the 1,600-employee plant remains on track to close by the end of 2004, with layoffs beginning in the second half of 2003.

Now, they said they’ll turn their attention to rebounding from the pending loss of the area’s largest employer.

``It’s important that we now devote full attention to our efforts to help our employees through this difficult transitional period, while doing what we can to minimize the impact of the plant closing on the Galesburg community,″ said Bill Beer, president of Maytag Appliances.

After the 90-minute meeting, local officials said they were encouraged by Maytag’s pledge to open a transition office for employees, and by the company’s willingness to help find some new use for the facility.

``It’s hard to find a positive out of a situation like this,″ said Greg Kistler, chairman of the Galesburg Regional Economic Development Association.

Maytag has already repaid about $4 million in state loans that were used to expand and improve the plant, said state Rep. Don Moffitt, R-Gilson. The money was paid back four years early, he said.

The company also is being asked to repay about $3.5 million in grants that were provided for expansion and work force development, Moffitt said. Maytag is still considering that request, he said.

Maytag announced in October that the Galesburg plant is no longer ``competitively viable,″ and that production will be moved to its Amana, Iowa, plant, and a new facility that will open next year in Mexico.

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