State will make effort to keep Maytag jobs

State will make effort to keep Maytag jobs
 
Date January 10, 2006
Section(s) Local News
   
 
By PETER HUSSMANN

Editor

State lawmakers will soon take up a joint resolution welcoming the Whirlpool Corp., to Iowa and extending an offer of assistance to the Michigan-based manufacturer to keep Maytag jobs in the state.

Sen. Dennis Black, D-Lynnville, said he plans to introduce the resolution within the next week. A companion measure will be introduced in the Iowa House by Rep. Paul Bell, D-Newton.

Whirlpool is in the process of acquiring the 112-year-old Newton-based company in a $1.79 billion cash and stock offer. Maytag shareholders approved the sale at a special meeting last month. The deal still needs clearance from the Anti-Trust Division of the Department of Justice. The combined companies would create the world’s largest appliance manufacturer. Whirlpool and Maytag have said they do not plan to close the sale prior to Feb. 27, or later depending upon federal regulatory approval.

In drafting the resolution, Black said he plans to note the benefits to Whirlpool of continuing Maytag operations within the state. Maytag has properties in Newton, Amana and North Liberty.

The continued presence of Maytag operations under Whirlpool ownership “would be conducive to the existing physical infrastructure of the respective communities in the State of Iowa,” Black said.

While the resolution does not identify any specific measures or monetary incentives the state would be willing to take to help keep Maytag operations in Iowa, Black said the state would be “ready to assist in any way feasible with incentives to maintain this important and critical employment base in our great state.”

Previously, state officials, along with Newton and Jasper County economic development officials, said they planned to put together a package to present to Whirlpool officials touting the benefits of continued operations in Iowa.

Whirlpool has yet to comment on the future of local Maytag operations upon completion of the merger. However, in a letter to Maytag employees following the shareholder vote, Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig said the combined companies “will create employment opportunities.”

“Until all regulatory approvals are achieved, I recognize that uncertainty exists as to what the future holds for many employees,” Fettig wrote. “Be assured that leaders of both companies understand this and we look forward to communicating clearly and regularly with you as appropriate when new information becomes available.

“To that end, we believe that the growth of our company will create employment opportunities. In the near future, we expect to share with you the process that we will follow for filling positions, including details on how you can actively participate in the process. We believe the need for talented, experienced professionals in the combined company will create many exciting opportunities.”

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