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Published: Tuesday, 12/18/2001

Toledo officials hope to reverse plans to close muffler factory

Toledo officials said yesterday that they are ready to go to Europe to try to persuade the French owners of a plant here that makes auto and truck mufflers to spare the factory and its more than 350 hourly and salaried jobs.

After a morning huddle on the planned closure of the former AP Parts plant, now owned by France-based Faurecia Exhaust Systems, Inc., a group of 50 elected officials, labor leaders, and economic development representatives agreed to try to arrange a meeting with company executives.

“The decision is final,” Scott Roy, the company's vice president of human resources here, told The Blade late yesterday.

“The closing is due to a downturn in the economy. There is nothing we can do or that can be done locally to turn that around.”

Top Faurecia officials couldn't be reached for comment.

The company announced Friday it would close the Matzinger Road plant by next fall because of the declining U.S. auto market.

The work will be moved to another Faurecia plant in the United States. Unaffected is an adjacent technical center employing 280 corporate, engineering, and sales personnel.

Donald Jakeway, president of Toledo's Regional Growth Partnership, said the group is interested in learning how it could entice the company to keep the factory open. “We're doing our homework,” he said. “This was a stunning announcement that caught all of us by surprise here in our community.”

Meetings have been requested with Faurecia executives in Toledo and France, the local officials said.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), who was among meeting participants who briefed reporters yesterday, suggested that the group might make use of a commercial attache assigned to the U.S. embassy in Paris.

Officials are now calculating the impact of the closing on the Toledo economy, but it will be “huge,” Mr. Jakeway said.

Unionized workers at the factory make up to $16 an hour. The closing also will hurt factories that supply parts to the plants, officials added.

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