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Hayes Lemmerz wheel plant to close; 290 will lose jobs in Gainesville
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A manufacturer of aluminum wheels announced Monday that it would close its Gainesville plant, leaving 290 workers out of a job.

A combination of overcapacity and competition from cheaper imports led Hayes Lemmerz International to decide to shutter its manufacturing facility by the end of the year.

Some of the production will be moved to the Hayes Lemmerz aluminum wheel facility in Mexico.

"The phaseout is a difficult but necessary step in our overall plan to provide our customers the highest quality products at competitive prices and to improve profitability," said Curtis Clawson, president, CEO and chairman of the board. "I would like to express my appreciation to our associates in Gainesville. We will work with those affected by this decision to help them through the transition."

Hayes Lemmerz supplies automotive and commercial highway wheels and powertrain components. It has 24 plants and more than 7,000 employees worldwide. The Gainesville facility, on Palmour Drive, began wheel production in July 1994.

Employees were advised of the closure during a meeting Monday.

"The automotive industry and manufacturing in general is in a very challenging and competitive environment," said Kit Dunlap, president and chief executive of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.

However, Dunlap said quality issues from some countries could drive manufacturing back to the U.S. She said ZF Transmissions’ decision to expand operations and build transmissions for a 2010 Nissan indicates that the area is a good place for manufacturing.

But this isn’t the first time this year that leaner economic times have hit manufacturing here.

In November, Peachtree Doors announced the closure of its Gainesville plant on Ramsey Road. Approximately 200 workers lost their jobs by the time the plant closed in February.

Last month, Mohawk Carpets announced plans to close a yarn plant in Dahlonega, resulting in the loss of 366 jobs.

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