Maytag executives have been meeting today with the Congressman who represents Newton as well as state economic development officials. Governor Tom Vilsack says the state could offer to help re-train Maytag workers on new manufacturing techniques.”Perhaps the state can provide resources to provide that training opportunity if we can retain jobs,” Vilsack says. “But until we know specifically what the company’s plans are and what the company’s needs are, it’s pretty difficult to answer that question and that’s why we’re having the meetings.” Vilsack says Maytag for many years had the playing field all to themselves because the appliance industry was dominated by American firms. Now, Maytag’s facing competition from Korea and China and consumers are looking at price, not bells and whistles, according to the governor. “They just want something that’s going to wash their clothes,” Vilsack says. The governor says Maytag is in “deep trouble” and faced with tough decisions. “They have to decide what direction they’re going,” Vilsack says. He suggests the company has to decide whether to produce “high-end” appliances — with big price tags — or try to retool their production line and their workers’ skills to make cheaper appliances. Once Maytag execs make up their mind, Vilsack says the state can offer assistance, like that community college training for workers.
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