DES MOINES, Iowa (AFX) - About 525 workers at the Newell Rubbermaid Inc. plant in Centerville will lose their jobs when the consumer products maker closes the plant after 21 years of operation.
Workers were told Wednesday evening that the plant would shut down Sept. 15 and production would be moved 325 miles southwest to Winfield, Kan.
The plant makes Rubbermaid brand garden sheds, outdoor storage units and garbage containers for the Atlanta-based manufacturer. The company announced in September a three-year plan to streamline manufacturing and cut overhead including 5,000 jobs. The company has about 31,000 employees worldwide.
Company officials said in January that they would close a plant in Canton, Ohio, and announced in July the closure of a factory in Goodyear, Ariz.
Iowa economic development officials said they have been trying to hold discussions with the company since January to offer incentives to keep the jobs in Iowa.
'We were trying to talk with them about the tools we did have for retention and they just wouldn't even have that conversation with us,' said Iowa Department of Economic Development Deputy Director Tina Hoffman.
She said it appeared last year that Iowa had won a competition with other plants for a $10 million expansion at Centerville. The state offered about $1 million in tax breaks, but after the top management at Newell Rubbermaid changed, their plans apparently took another direction, Hoffman said.
Rubbermaid Home Products spokesman Joe Marotti said the savings attained through consolidating production at the Kansas plant was so great that Iowa could never have matched it. No addition will be required to add the products made in Centerville to the Winfield plant, where insulated coolers are currently made, he said.
'There was no way the state would ever be able to come up with the amount of money we're saving by consolidating. If we thought for a minute we could have done it, we would have done it,' he said. 'It's a global market out there and it's getting tougher every year and you've got to stay as cost-competitive of possible.'
The 500,000-square-foot Rubbermaid factory drew employees from a wide area of southern Iowa and northern Missouri.
Sherman said the employment at the plant represents about 30 percent of manufacturing labor in Appanoose County.
Centerville, the largest city in the county, has a population of 5,924. It is located 70 miles southeast of Des Moines in a rural region of southern Iowa that has traditionally relied heavily on manufacturing for its economic base, but has seen many plant closures and layoffs in recent years.
Shares of Newell Rubbermaid rose 64 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $25.61 to close on the New York Stock Exchange.
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