Whirlpool to close Indiana center, move work to Michigan

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Whirlpool Corp. announced Monday it plans to shut down the last of its operations in a southern Indiana city, a plant that employed more than 1,500 workers a few years ago.

Whirlpool said it would close its Refrigeration Product Development Center in Evansville by the end of 2014 and consolidate the center's work at facilities near the company's Benton Harbor, Mich., headquarters. Whirlpool expects to spend about $18 million on renovations and equipment.

Whirlpool had about 230 employees at the Evansville center last year when it agreed to return state tax incentives for not meeting job-retention commitments.

Some Evansville employees might be given the chance to relocate to Michigan, the Evansville Courier & Press and WFIE-TV reported.

"This decision was difficult and in no way reflects on the quality of work in Evansville or the support from the local community or the state of Indiana," Whirlpool spokesman Kristine Vernier said.

Whirlpool's refrigerator plant in Evansville had about 1,100 employees when it was closed in 2010 and its production work was shifted to Mexico. The company had cut about 300 jobs from the factory in the two previous years.

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