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Published: Tuesday, 3/30/2004

$11 million outlay for B.G. plant planned

BOWLING GREEN - Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. plans to invest $11 million in equipment over the next three years at its Bowling Green auto-seal plant to accommodate new contracts for several vehicles, city officials said yesterday.

The 466-employee factory, part of a unit that Cooper Tire is trying to sell, plans to add 176 jobs over the next three years for the upcoming contracts.

Average wages for the jobs are to be $38,000 a year, and six people are to be hired this year, 30 next year, and 140 in 2006, according to an incentive application filed with the city.

Bowling Green City Council on Monday will introduce the enterprise zone application from Cooper Tire.

The Findlay firm has asked for a 10-year exemption on the investment's personal property taxes worth more than $1.4 million, although Cooper Tire would pay $623,000 to the school district and Penta Career Center as part of the deal, said Sue Clark, director of the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation.

A company official could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The investment also will help retain jobs at the factory, according to the incentive application.

Cooper Tire announced last week it is seeking a buyer for its parts-making operations, including two factories in Bowling Green with about 1,000 employees.

If the parts unit is sold, the company would concentrate solely on making tires.

The seal plant in Bowling Green makes door, hood, and other seals for various vehicles, including the Toledo-made Jeep Liberty. The firm's other factory in Bowling Green makes hoses.

Cooper Tire has not applied for assistance from the Ohio Department of Development for the sealing-plant project.

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