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Grant to help JLG recall 650 workers

October 21, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell on Wednesday announced a $300,000 federal grant to help JLG further expand its production of military trucks, meaning more laid-off workers could be called back to the Fulton County, Pa., manufacturing plant.

Four hundred employees already returned to JLG in McConnellsburg through U.S. Army contracts for MRAP all-terrain vehicles, also called M-ATVs, corporate spokeswoman Ann Stawski said.

A press release from Rendell's office stated 650 workers altogether will regain employment and 30 new employees will be hired through the contracts.

"We'll continue to call them back as production continues to ramp up," Stawski said, saying the facility will be producing 500 M-ATVs per month starting in December.

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The McConnellsburg plant has 20 percent fewer employees than in October 2008, Stawski said. JLG, whose parent company is Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Corp., employs 1,500 people in Pennsylvania at its McConnellsburg, Shippensburg and Bedford facilities, she said.

"As new orders dropped, JLG Industries was forced to make significant layoffs, which was devastating to the affected workers and the local economy," Rendell said in the press release.

The Workforce Investment Act grant, along with financial commitments from JLG, will provide three to four weeks of training for employees who will be making the M-ATVs. Stawski said workers in all areas of production already are receiving considerable training to learn about the new product for their plant.

"I think the company is very pleased," she said. "We're all very grateful for the training grant."

"It's huge news for Fulton County," said state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., a Republican who represents Fulton County.

Fulton County's economy is so closely tied to JLG that it can go from having some of the lowest unemployment rates in the state to the highest, depending on JLG actions, Eichelberger said.

"They can go back and forth very quickly," he said.

Eichelberger said he's impressed by how the telehandler and aerial work platform manufacturer became an international company and expanded into military vehicles.

"The military, that's a good customer to have because they place big orders and they pay their bills," Eichelberger said.

Oshkosh Corp. moved some of the access equipment out of McConnellsburg to focus on the M-ATVs, which also are made by Oshkosh Defense in Wisconsin, Stawski said.

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