Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Auto industry woes affect Van Wert

BY ED GEBERTTimes Bulletin News Writer

In an area that is reliant upon the automotive industry for jobs and economic strength, Van Wert County has felt the brunt of a national recession. November's unemployment figure for the county was a state-high 10.9 percent, and it is doubtful that number will improve when December's figures are released by the state in 10 days.

Dealing with the problem has become both a local and a statewide task. County Economic Development Director Nancy Bowen attended a meeting in Detroit at the outset of the week for a group of 45-50 communities with heavy ties to the automotive industry. The meeting is called the Automotive Communities Program.

"It allows us to network with one another about what goes on with different companies, but it also gives us an opportunity to hear from experts on what is new in the automotive industry and about some lean techniques that are being used across the board," Bowen offered. "We also hear about aftermarket and supplier opportunities. Really there's a lot going on with GPS systems and new technologies for automotive. And there's an opportunity there to find out about potential prospects that might work for our community.

"One of the programs Bowen has discovered through her association with the Automotive Communities Program is a grant program called the Great Lakes Assistance Program. Over the past few weeks, area automotive manufacturers have been briefed about product development and marketing. More here.

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