Whirlpool Investing in Amana plant, Adding Jobs

By George C. Ford

AMANA - Whirlpool Corp. on Thursday announced plans to make a major capital investment in its Amana plant and add a new product line that will create 60 jobs.

The Iowa Department of Economic Development Board on Thursday approved a $6.5 million forgivable loan to Whirlpool. The Iowa County Board of Supervisors also has approved incentives for the Amana plant.

Whirlpool said the funding will allow it to make needed upgrades, including improvements in facility infrastructure, energy efficiency, equipment and processes. The changes also will help ensure that the Amana plant, which employs about 1,600, will remain a vital member of the Amana community.

Whirlpool also said it will transfer the production of 50-pound icemakers to the Amana plant from a plant in Evansville, Ind. The new product line will add about 60 jobs.

Whirlpool in August said that it planned to close the Evansville plant in June, eliminating 1,100 full-time jobs. The plant produces top-mounted freezer refrigerators and the 50-pound icemakers.

Evansville was able to land Whirlpool's Refrigeration Product Development Center, which will employ about 300.

Whirlpool said consolidation of the icemaker production in Amana is an opportunity to further leverage best cost, best quality and best asset utilization.

Jeff Noel, Whirlpool vice president of corporate and public affairs, said the company's investment in the Amana plant will strengthen the partnership between Priority One, the Iowa City Area Development Group, Iowa County, the state of Iowa and Whirlpool and its Amana plant.

"We are profoundly grateful to everyone involved in the discussions and outcome that benefits our employees, our business and the community," Noel said.

Mark Seckman, president of Priority One, said Thursday's announcement is significant for the entire region.

"Whirlpool's long history of success in Amana has created an outstanding local supplier base, experienced technology resources, and excellent employment opportunities that benefit all the surrounding communities," Seckman said.

Joe Raso, president of the Iowa City Area Development Group, said Whirlpool's decision to transfer the icemaker production to Amana was a testament to the quality, productivity and capability of the Amana work force.
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