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Published: Saturday, 5/17/2008

Financing holds up Ford plant reopening

Plans to reopen Ford Motor Co.'s former Maumee Stamping Plant under an employee stock ownership plan have been delayed because financing hasn't been decided by the Ohio Department of Development.

Keith Obey, a former manager at the factory and the leader of a plan to resume production of parts for auto manufacturers and other customers at the plant, had said he planned to finalize the purchase by yesterday.

But he needed the financial backing first, and he hopes to get a green light from the state, he said.

"We're waiting to hear from them," Mr. Obey said.

His plan calls for Maumee Authority Stamping Inc., the name of his employee-owned company, to initially employ 250 in the factory, which closed last fall.

The Ford operation, which once had 1,200 employees, fell victim to the car maker's cost- cutting in its efforts to return to profitability.

Each employee of the new operation will be required to buy, up front, at least one share of stock for $16,000 each.

Mr. Obey said more than a thousand people applied to become owner-employees, and he planned to raise $4.8 million by selling 300 shares.

Employees are to be paid $14 to $20 an hour and receive stock dividends of up to $20,000 in the first year if the firm meets projections, he said.

The company is negotiating with customers who have promised $105 million in business this year, Mr. Obey added.

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