Meadville Tribune

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September 14, 2007

PPG workers express concern about their futures

(Continued)



Mudger is optimistic he could get another job with his former employer if the local plant were to close.

“It’s all up in the air,” said Myron Tipton, 61, of Cochranton, a maintenance employee who has worked at the plant for 39 years.

“PPG hasn’t done anything in the last few years,” he said. “They need to rebuild the (glass-making) lines. Depending on what the new company does, we might be better off.”

The last major upgrade of the plant was in 2002 when PPG had a $23 million project to rebuild a glass-melting furnace and install an energy-efficient, oxygen-fuel furnace.

Aaron Miller of Hartstown, who just got hired at the plant in July, is hopeful the new ownership will invest in the local operation.

“I heard they may put more money into the plant, but that’s not confirmed,” he said.

If the local plant were to close, it would have a ripple effect on the local economy.

David Bigusiak, who owns Route 19 Heavy Truck Repair near the plant, said PPG accounts for about 10 to 15 percent of his business.

His company services dump trucks and other heavy equipment at the plant as well as a variety of tractor-trailers that haul finished glass out of the plant.

“We’ll have to have a ‘wait-and-see attitude,’ ” said Bigusiak. “It would be a big loss for the community.”

A study PPG did on its Meadville-area operation in 1998 found the local plant had an impact of $51 million on the economy at that time.

The bulk of that was in two areas — $22.2 million in wages and benefits and another $19.7 million in transportation and utility costs. Another $7.3 million was spent with 400 suppliers within a 50-mile radius of the plant, according to the study.

The potential loss of millions to the local economy and more than 200 jobs has business officials worried.

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