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Published: Tuesday, 11/24/2009

Cooper Tire to expand, hire up to 100

BLADE STAFF

FINDLAY — Replacement tire manufacturer Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. announced yesterday that it will add as many as 100 jobs and invest $10 million to upgrade to its manufacturing plant in Findlay.

Some hiring of manufacturing positions has begun, company spokesman Janice Johnston said, and it will continue into early next year. Interested applicants should go to the firm's Web site, at www.coopertire.appone.com.

The added jobs stem from the launch of several new light truck, SUV, and premium winter tire products.

The project bolsters production at a cost-competitive plant and will make more higher-profit tires, the firm said. The expansion was unrelated to a decision earlier this year by Cooper to close a manufacturing facility in Albany, Ga., Ms. Johnston said.

The Hancock County manufacturer this year announced production increases and expansions of its plants in Texarkana, Ark., and Tupelo, Miss. It also expanded production at its plants in Mexico and China.

This month, the firm reported third-quarter profits of $47 million after five straight quarters of losses. In August, the company received $250,000 to help it acquire machinery and equipment as it consolidates its operations in Findlay under a $37 million restructuring plan.

The local plant will ultimately employ about 1,250 people. Cooper's corporate offices in Findlay employ approximately 700 additional workers, Ms. Johnston said.

Last year, members of United Steel Workers Local 207L agreed to a contract that included wage and benefit concessions that were to save Cooper Tire an estimated $10 million a year at its hometown plant, and $30 million over the three years of the agreement.

"Those are high quality jobs, and we welcome them to Findlay," said Ray DeWinkle, president of GreaterFindlay Inc., the region's economic development agency.

"It's a very positive addition to our community. Cooper's one of our premier employers and in a highly competitive industry, and this investment shows that they believe that investing in this community is good for their company as well."

Hancock County's jobless rate of 9.1 percent for October is the second lowest among 16 counties in northwest Ohio, behind only Putnam County's rate of 8.6 percent.



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