Chowchilla officials make case to keep Brake Parts jobs | The Merced Sun-Star

Chowchilla officials said Thursday they have made progress in persuading Brake Parts Inc. to stem layoffs planned to happen before the end of the year, but the manager of the plant said it is too soon to celebrate.

City Administrator Brian Haddix released a statement saying city officials have worked with county and state agencies to offer economic incentives that make “a persuasive argument” for the Illinois-based company to retain “as many jobs as possible.”

The manufacturer announced earlier in October that it expected to lay off up to 90 people before the end of 2015.

Plant manager Russell Raymond said in a phone call Thursday that layoffs are still planned.

“There’s been no change in what we’re doing,” he said. Ninety people have been notified that they could be out of work in November, he said. “It won’t be over 90. It might be a little less.”

Regarding the negotiations to retain jobs at the plant, Haddix said, “I’m confident that we’ve made favorable progress.”

Haddix said 183 people are employed at at the plant, a figure Raymond declined to confirm.

Calls to officials at the headquarters of Brake Parts Inc. in McHenry, Ill., were not answered Thursday afternoon.

Brake Parts’ vice president of global human resources, Randy Clausen, has said the company could save money and be more competitive if it moved more of its work of refurbishing brake parts to its plant in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. He said the company had no plans to close the Chowchilla plant entirely.

Losing as many as 90 jobs would be a tough blow to a town of about 17,000, according to area analysts, particularly as local retailers count on a boost from holiday shopping.

Haddix said the city worked with the Madera County Economic Development Corp. and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development to offer incentives such as a potential rate reduction through a program offered by Pacific Gas and Electric; state tax credits; and economic alternatives offered by the city. The team, he said, “pulled out the stops.”

“The retention and expansion of jobs in Chowchilla is job one,” Haddix said in a statement. “Every job in our city means a family that can sleep easier at night; likewise, every job in Chowchilla means a paycheck spent in our local businesses.”

Mayor Pro Tem Waseem Ahmed said Chowchilla’s location, with highways linking it to the Silicon Valley and the rest of the San Joaquin Valley, make it “a vital asset to any manufacturer who ships his products throughout and outside the state.”

“We remain a dynamic location for Brake Parts and for the other manufacturers who make up the Chowchilla business family,” Ahmed said.

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