Sources tell Radio Iowa that Whirlpool officials will make some sort of an announcement Wednesday morning that may spell out the future of Maytag operations in Newton. Whirlpool, which is based in Benton Harbor, Michigan, acquired rival appliance-maker Maytag in early April. Nearly 5000 Iowans have jobs connected to Maytag. Whirlpool executives have said the Maytag production plant in Newton, where about 1000 people work, is now its most expensive plant to operate. There are over 1000 other administrative jobs in Newton connected to Maytag. Maytag was founded in Newton in 1893. The company started out as a farm implement maker, though. Its first washing machine was sold in 1907. Its first power washer — the Hired Girl — was introduced in 1909 and by 1924 one out of every five American washers was a Maytag. This past April 27th, Governor Tom Vilsack said it would be difficult to convince Whirlpool to keep the Newton production plant open. “I don’t want to underestimate the difficulty of the challenge that is faced because there are significant differences in terms of the costs of doing business at other locations,” Vilsack said. After hosting a meeting with Whirlpool executives two weeks ago, Vilsack flew to Whirlpool’s headquarters in Michigan last week to make what may have been his final pitch. Back on April 27th, Vilsack sounded less than optimistic the state could do anything to keep that Newton plant open. “I don’t want to mislead anybody,” Vilsack said back in late April. “This is a very, very competitive circumstance and it may not be in the capacity of any government to make up that competitive difference.” Maytag acquired rival Amana a few years ago and about 2500 workers are employed at the Amana plant in Amana, which Whirlpool now owns. There’s also a distribution center in North Liberty that employs about 100.
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