Lindsay Whitehurst, The Herald Bulletin

One of Anderson's largest employers, and General Motors Corp. supplier Guide Corp., will shut down all its Anderson operations by June 2007.

"Despite efforts to turn around the Guide operations and meet the growing competitive needs of its customer, Guide concluded that it was in the best interests of its stockholders and customers to begin an orderly wind down of its operations," Joe Ruffolo, executive vice-president of Human Resources, said Wednesday.

About 1,325 people work at its taillight plant located at 2915 Martin Luther King Boulevard, Ruffolo said. The shut down will also include the company's technology and customer support center in Pendleton, which has about 150 employees, and the Monroe, La., operations, which employ 675 people.

At shift change on Tuesday afternoon, workers had plenty to say, but few wanted to talk. Rumors of a shut down have been swirling for months.

"It wasn't really a surprise," Randy Robertson, a 41-year-old toolmaker, said. "They told me when I hired in (in 2002) that it wasn't a permanent job. I'll find another job. I have to, I can't retire."

Two weeks ago, workers with less than 10 years experience were offered a $70,000 buyout package, while those with more than 10 years were offered a $140,000 package or transfer to another facility, workers said.

"I can retire, but I worry about the others," Rick Hiday, 52, Middletown, said. "It's sad to see all the young people leave."

"This is the third plant I've worked at," a friend, who would not give his name, said. "I just jump from plant to plant. The days where you can work at one place for 30 years are over."

Steve Lewis, president of United Auto Workers Local 663, which represents Guide workers, had no comment.

"We'll have information as soon as it becomes available to me," he said.

Meanwhile, Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith touted the city's steps toward a more diversified economy. Until the company began pulling out its work force in 1979, GM employed some 27,000 workers in Anderson.

"General Motors is not in our employment future, period," he said. "We know what began in the 1970s has come full circle."

Had Guide been allowed to bid for jobs outside GM, Smith said, the company might have survived.

"It has never made any sense to me why various company operations were not allowed to be spun off from Guide," he said. "The opportunities were there for profit to be made by GM by selling operations. We had interested people who would be interested in buying those operations."

The future of the building, he said, has not been decided. The city might negotiate an agreement with GM to accept the property as a donation, as it did last month with 300 acres of former Delco Remy properties.

Guide was founded in 1906 as a motor vehicle lamp repair shop called the Guide Motor Lamp Company. It was later acquired by GM, then spun off in 1998.

"We've lost thousands of General Motors jobs over years, but we've managed to survive," Chamber of Commerce President Keith Pitcher said. "The effort to diversify the economy is going to help, but it's still a tremendous loss."

The economic repercussions will be felt in all sectors, from landscaping to security, across east central Indiana, said Patrick Barkey, an economist at Ball State University in Muncie.

"The fact that it's not all together surprising doesn't make it any less painful," he said. "When you count the jobs and the spending involved, there are only a couple pieces of silver lining. One is that the impact will be felt across central Indiana (not just in Anderson). Also, when you're waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it does drop, you can seize whatever opportunities come out of that."

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