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Published: Saturday, 3/27/2004

Major benefits accrue to Toledo as home city to Dana

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Toledo reaps enormous benefits from being home to Dana Corp., one of the world's largest auto suppliers.

Some advantages are tangible, such as taxes paid and volunteer efforts.

Others are less so, including the prestige and image of having a Fortune 500 firm's headquarters and the business other firms get from having Dana as a customer.

Nearly 1,300 people work at several Dana facilities in the Toledo area, including the 4500 Dorr St. headquarters, a new Maumee technical center for driveshafts and axles, and various corporate and engineering facilities.

The local Dana jobs are white collar, as Dana hasn't had a factory in Toledo since it closed a 62-employee operation on American Road in 2001.

The largest company in the region, Dana had about $10.1 billion in sales last year, about 59,000 employees worldwide, and the No. 193 ranking on the Fortune 500 list.

Neither the city nor the company would reveal how much the firm pays in payroll taxes.

The company is a significant employer providing both high-paying jobs and contributions to the local tax base, and it's also a good corporate citizen, said Toledo Mayor Jack Ford.

"They have a beautiful corporate setting on Dorr Street across from the Inverness Club that is a source of pride for Toledoans and those who visit Toledo," the mayor said.

Rudy and Maria Lira's house on Brooke Park Drive, meanwhile, is a source of pride both for the Toledo couple and for the Dana employees who helped build it last year.

Under the leadership of Joe Magliochetti, the Dana chairman and chief executive who died last year, 260 Dana employees and family members contributed about 1,500 hours to help the family build their Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity house.

Mr. Lira said he had expected to need more help from relatives to build the four-bedroom house, but Dana supplied more than enough volunteers.

Plus, Dana volunteers put in more time than they were scheduled for, he said.

"What surprised me the most is that they kept coming back, even though they put in their four hours or whatever," he said.

Ed McNeal, Dana's vice president of government relations and administrator of the Dana Corp. Foundation, declined to say how much money the foundation and company contributed in the Toledo area last year.

But he said employee contributions to United Way of Greater Toledo, for example, are matched 100 percent.

In 2002, Dana gave out $1.8 million in charitable contributions locally through its foundation and directly from operations, the company has said.

Dana is one of the United Way's five donors whose company and employers contribute at least $500,000 annually.

Plus, many Dana employees are active volunteers, including Mr. McNeal, a longtime board member, said Robert Lucas, United Way's president.

"They are very important to us," he said. "This town would not be the same without Dana."

Volunteer efforts by Dana employes are more important than the firm's dollar contributions, Mr. McNeal said.

Employees serve on boards for various groups, such as the Epilepsy Center and Mobile Meals of Toledo Inc., and Dana supports those and other organizations with financial contributions, he said.

"People are not doing it for the purpose of making the company look good," Mr. McNeal said.

"People are doing this because this is a community we're a part of, and it's the right thing to do."

Perhaps equally important is that Dana has chosen to remain in Toledo after more than 75 years.

Many large auto parts makers are in southeast Michigan, but Dana's presence in northwest Ohio - both with the headquarters and a major technical center - is a selling point with other companies considering the area, said Eileen Granata, acting chief operating officer of Toledo's Regional Growth Partnership.

Dana decided two years ago to consolidate some technical operations into a new 485-employee center in suburban Toledo, where average wages are $62,500 a year, a clear boost to the area.

About 300 high-paying jobs were added to the local economy, and the center is expected to foster added research and technical businesses and jobs nearby.

"It's kind of like a first domino," Ms. Granata said.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at: jmckinnon@theblade.com or 419-724-6087.



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