GE Lighting plans to close its Ravenna manufacturing plant next year, saying there is a "dramatic and continuing" decline in demand for the lamps made there.
The company said in a news release that it intends to close the 164-employee facility by the end of March 2014. Workers make high-intensity discharge lamps that are used in warehouses, stadiums and other public areas.
The GE Lighting Ravenna distribution center, which employs about 40, would not be affected.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown on Thursday called on General Electric Co. to keep open the North Chestnut Street (state Route 44) plant, as well as a GE Lighting facility in Warren slated for closure. GE Lighting, headquartered in East Cleveland, is a division of General Electric.
"Recently, GE's reshoring initiatives have made headlines because of the company's decision to bring some of its manufacturing back to the United States," Brown said in a letter, sent to Maryrose Sylvester, CEO of GE Lighting.
"GE can build on this success by bringing new lighting production to the Warren and Ravenna facilities," Brown said in a letter released to the media Thursday.
The decades-old Ravenna facility -- called the Ravenna Lamp Plant -- is operating at less than one-third of capacity as customers have shifted to less costly energy-efficient lighting.
GE Lighting said the closing is contingent upon a process called "idea generation," in which employees "can offer cost-saving alternatives to the plan." A decision is expected in 60 days.
Ravenna Mayor Joseph Bica said Thursday that the plant's employment has steadily declined. Bica noted that workers paid $235,000 in city income taxes last year. That's down from $322,000 in 2009.
Bica said "it is not a shock," but "it is a significant blow to the city."
Bica noted that the closing comes after the creation of 250 jobs in the city over the last three years. "We're still on the positive side," he said.
He said he welcomes the efforts of Brown and others to keep the plant open. However, he noted, "unless the politicians are able to put some potential funding behind it or incentives behind it, [the closing] is probably a done deal."
GE Lighting said more than two-thirds of the plant's 164 workers -- 112 employees -- would be eligible for retirement or a "plant closing pension option." The remaining 52 employees at Ravenna would be eligible for "preferential employment placement" at up to 10 GE locations, as well as severance, tuition reimbursement for education and training, and continued insurance, medical and dental benefits.
GE Lighting said it plans to close its Ohio Lamp plant in Warren in the first quarter of 2014. It said that plant also is operating at far less than full capacity as customers shift from the halogen PAR lamps and specialty incandescent lighting made there to more efficient lighting. A total of 198 workers would be affected.
GE Lighting also said it plans to close its Monterrey, Mexico, plant.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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OCTOBER 31, 2014
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