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Whirlpool to close Indiana refrigerator center, consolidate in Michigan

Whirlpool Corp. is planning to shut down the last of its operations in a southern Indiana city where it had more than 1,500 workers a few years ago by moving refrigerator development work to Michigan.

The company announced today that it would close its Refrigeration Product Development Center in Evansville by the end of 2014. The Evansville Courier & Press reports Whirlpool plans to consolidate the center's work at facilities near the company's Benton Harbor headquarters.

According to the Courier & Press, Evansville employees may be given the chance to relocate to Michigan.

Whirlpool, the largest appliance manufacturer in the world, had about 230 employees at the Evansville center last year when it agreed to return state tax incentives for not meeting job retention commitments.

Whirlpool's refrigerator plant in Evansville had about 1,100 workers when it was closed in 2010 and its production shifted to Mexico, reports the Associated Press.

Last October, the company told Michigan Radio it planned to cut 5,000 jobs, though it was unclear how many of those cuts would apply to Michiganders.

These cuts came after the company announced in June of 2011 that it would pay $603 million to Brazilian bank Banco Safra S.A. in legal settlements. Whirlpool executives projected $400 million in savings by the end of 2013 as a result of the layoffs.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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