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Bosch plant to close in South Bend

November 16, 2010|By Colleen Ferreira (cferreira@wsbt.com)

SOUTH BEND — Robert Bosch Corp. will close its South Bend facility on Bendix Drive at the end of 2011.

“We are closing that facility as a focus of restructuring our business,” said Becky MacDonald, a Bosch spokeswoman.

MacDonald said the company wants to focus on the ability to deliver quality products for its customers and return the business to profitability.

The 250 jobs in South Bend will be phased out over the next 13 months.

About 170 of those people will be offered a chance to relocate to Bosch sites in St. Joseph, Mich.; Farmington Hills, Mich.; and Mount Prospect, Ill.

The rest of the staff is out of luck.

“We’ve worked hard to keep these jobs here for the past 10 years,” says South Bend Mayor Steve Luecke. “We are grateful that we’re able to make that investment with Bosch Corp.”

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That investment saved jobs 10 years ago when the city loaned Bosch $4 million to expand and renovate the South Bend location.

That loan kept production in full force.

Bosch still owes the city $1.35 million.

“Bosch will honor its commitments to the city and the state,” says MacDonald. “We have contacted the mayor’s office and spoken with the Indiana Department of Commerce representatives to make sure they are aware of our changes.”

But this call came a little too late for Mayor Luecke.

“We had a productive discussion with Bosch Corporation 10 years ago when they decided to keep jobs here for a period of time,” Luecke said. “Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to have that same level of discussion or any discussion this year.”

The mayor says he wishes a conversation would have taken place before Bosch made the announcement Tuesday morning.

He says he would have been willing to work with the company to keep the local plant alive.

The Mayor offered his sympathy to those employees that will lose their jobs over the next year.

He also encouraged them to be innovative.

“The city is certainly ready, willing and able to assist with anyone who wants to propose a new start-up business in our community as well,” Luecke said.

And what will happen to the land on Bendix Drive that will be unoccupied come next year?

Jeff Rea, president and CEO of the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce, says the lot might just sit at a standstill.

“Today’s companies don’t want the big old cumbersome buildings that are energy inefficient,” Rea said. “A great challenge awaits the city as they look to try to redevelop what’s an important piece of that west side neighborhood.”

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