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Panasonic plant to close

Panasonic Primary Battery Corporation of America in Columbus is shutting down one of its plants and laying off about 250 of its factory and office workers, the company announced to employees Monday.

"We are no longer competitive with Chinese imports," said John Rowe, vice president of administration at the company. "Those products are coming into the U.S. at a lower price."

Job cuts at the alkaline battery manufacturing facility — located at 1 Mutec Drive — will go into effect March 31, 2008.

Panasonic's two other Columbus facilities, a materials division and lithium division, will not be affected, Rowe said. And sales support employees based out of the Mutec location will be relocated.

Between the two divisions and the Columbus sales support team, Panasonic will employ 125 locally after the plant shuts down.

Rowe said Panasonic plans to offer laid-off employees severance packages, but further details have yet to be worked out.

The company said it also plans to work with the state of Georgia and other agencies to help retrain the 250 employees.

As for the possibility of outsourcing work overseas, Rowe said it will depend on "what our customers want."

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