Financial support package pledged for Amana Whirlpool plant - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Financial support package pledged for Amana Whirlpool plant

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AMANA (KWWL) - Whirlpool officials say a $20 million financial support package will allow them to step up efficiency, productivity, and put people back to work at their Amana facility.

After experiencing layoffs due to a poor economy, vice president of Whirlpool's Amana division, Dan Smith, has seen a rebound in business.

"I think we have absolutely seen some improvement in the appliance industry," said Smith in an interview Thursday.

That's led Iowa's Department of Economic Development and Iowa County to pledge a total of $8 million to Whirlpool's Amana factory. Iowa County has promised $1.5 million in tax incremental financing, and Whirlpool will cover $12 million. The remaining $6.5 million from the state is a forgivable loan.

"The loan from the state is predicated upon Whirlpool following through in terms of making the improvements on the plant that they're going to make," said John Bickel, IDED board member.

Those improvements include new technology for the plant, and energy-efficient lighting.

"We've actually done some test areas in the plant where we've replaced lighting, and seen some significant reduction in electrical usage, which is expense, but also a significant improvement at the same time in the quality of light and amount of light we have," explained Smith.

Another part of the agreement is for Whirlpool to maintain its current 1,600 jobs at the Amana facility, plus another 300 to 400 employees of its Iowa-based suppliers. Smith says 90 seasonal jobs should open at the factory in the next few weeks. Another 60 positions resulting from the financial support will become available mid-year.

The facility will also take over production of an ice maker, previously made at Whirlpool's plant in Evansville, Indiana. Production on the appliance should begin later this year.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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