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ATLANTA-Locally headquartered Rheem Manufacturing Corp. plans to close its facility at 138 Roberson Mill Rd. NE in suburban Milledgeville by the end of this year in order to consolidate its operations. A total of 1,200 employees will lose their jobs as a result, according to the Georgia Department of Labor business layoff/closure listings.

A 649,000-square-foot industrial-light manufacturing building stands on the 90-acre site owned by Rheem Manufacturing since 1977. “No final decision has been made on the facility’s future, but Rheem will continue to work with local officials as we make these decisions,” a spokesperson for the central heating and cooling products manufacturer tells GlobeSt.com.

“Unfortunately, the precipitous drop in new construction and the global economic crisis show no signs of short-term recovery, a situation which has forced us to take this difficult course of action,” Rheem COO Chris Peel, said in a media statement. The company also noted that the heating and cooling industry is down 40% since 2005.

“In this environment, such announcements aren’t surprising; however, these closures are no less unfortunate for their impact on the employees at the plant and on the surrounding area,” Chris Shaner senior associate of research with Cushman & Wakefield of Georgia, tells GlobeSt.com “During 2008, job losses in the metro Atlanta area followed the national trend and were most heavily focused in the construction and manufacturing sectors. Unfortunately, conditions only worsened at the start of 2009. Similar activity is expected in many other markets across the country in 2009, as companies consolidate their operations in response to economic conditions to fine-tune their supply chains and cut costs.”

Four days before Rheem announced the closing, 650 employees had returned to work from a temporary lay off due to a new 400,000-square-foot facility opening in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Local news site macon.com reported that the new plant in Mexico took over making some of the parts previously manufactured in Milledgeville. Rheem indicated in its statement that it would be consolidating its operations into the facility in Mexico and a plant in Fort Smith, AR.

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