Lawmakers Fight to Keep Plant Open

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AKRON -- Lawmakers representing the Akron area have united in an effort to try and convince Lockheed Martin it is in the company's best interest to keep its local plant open.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, along with U.S. Representatives Marcia Fudge, Tim Ryan and Marcy Kaptur, have written Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson saying, "This factory not only provides jobs for Northeast Ohioans and helps to stimulate the local economy, it is situated in a state that has the nation's 10th largest highway network and is a one-day drive from 70 percent of North America's manufacturing capacity."

Although Lockheed Martin has not announced any definite plans to close the Akron plant, the suggestion has apparently been made as a part of a draft business plan that would result in a restructuring of the company's operations.

If it were to ever close, the 600 jobs in Akron could be transferred to other Lockheed Martin facilities throughout the country.

In their letter, the legislators say closing the plant here " would deliver a major blow to the area."

It is a fight the city has joined.

Sam DeShazior, Akron's Deputy Planning Director for Economic Development, says the local plant has become one of the most productive for Lockheed Martin.

"Right now, the systems mission operation, which is in Akron, supplies manufacturing expertise to at least seven other Lockheed facilities throughout the east coast," said DeShazior. "They have the highest productivity level in the nation and it's bigger than just Akron, because they are supplying NASA and other upward and downward streams," said DeShazior.

In fact, in their letter, the lawmakers also point out that "as the birthplace of global aviation, Ohio's aerospace industry is one of the state's largest and most important industries."

"We are all a galvanized team, along with Summit County, to make sure that this is not going to happen here," said DeShazior.

UAW Local 856 represents about 100 hourly employees of the company in Akron.

Its president, Fred Jones, believes adding the legislator's voices to the effort to keep the plant from closing can only help since so much of Lockheed Martin's work is military based with government contracts.

"Having a senator and the congress people sitting up on appropriations committees, they would be able to fight to keep it here," said Jones.