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Local USW president jumps the gun on Michelin plant expansion

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An Associated Press (AP) story on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, quoted Local 715 President Jim Wetzel talking about expansion plans at Michelin North America Inc.'s tire manufacturing plant in Fort Wayne, Ind.

In an official statement, Michelin was quick to clarify the situation.

"We appreciate the support we receive from Fort Wayne, Allen County and the state of Indiana. Michelin is constantly analyzing the competitive North American environment.

"When deciding on possible future investments, state and local incentives are a strong plus. In this case, we have laid the groundwork for making improvements at the plant; however, at this point no final decisions have been made."

When the original AP story hit the Internet, the reporter mentioned that Michelin's BFGoodrich Tire Manufacturing division had been called for comment.

The Fort Wayne facility has the capacity to produce 29,000 passenger and light truck tires per day, according to Modern Tire Dealer's soon-to-be-published January 2011 Facts Issue.

Here is the updated AP news release, run in its entirety.

WOODBURN, Ind. (AP) -- A United Steelworkers of America local president says BFGoodrich is adding workers and updating equipment at a tire plant outside Fort Wayne as part of a $77 million modernization project.

Local 715 President Jim Wetzel told "The News-Sentinel" in a story Tuesday the plant in Woodburn has added 50 to 60 people the past few months and now has 1,400 employees.

BFGoodrich spokesman Tate Hoxworth says the company has laid the groundwork for making improvements at the plant, but no final decisions have been made.

Wetzel said the plant will modify existing equipment so it can make a larger variety of tires.

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