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GOODYEAR'S NIAGARA FALLS PLANT TO SHARE IN FIRM'S CAPITAL OUTLAYS

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said it will spend $600 million over six years to upgrade and expand its chemical plants and build two new ones.

Goodyear's Niagara Falls plant, which employs about 100 workers, is among the facilities that will see major improvements, though no specific timetable has been set.

Spokesman Skip Scherer said that although Goodyear will not be adding to the local work force, the investment is a sign of the company's continued commitment to the Niagara Falls facility.

"We're focused on a strategy to be on the leading edge of technology," Scherer said. "These are long-term investments."

The Niagara Falls plant has seen its work force decline from about 300 employees in the early 1990s. The biggest cut came in mid-1996, when 166 jobs were lost when the plant shut down its polyvinyl chloride production.

The plant, at 5408 Baker Road, continues to produce antioxidants and antiozonants, which are used by the rubber and tire industries to slow the deterioration of rubber due to oxygen and ozone in the atmosphere.

Earlier this week Akron-based Goodyear said it will invest an unspecified amount in an automated "tire plant of the future." Goodyear also said that its third-quarter net income rose 14 percent to $194.1 million, or $1.25 a share.

The new investment in the chemical plants will allow Goodyear to make products it has developed but has not been able to produce for technological reasons, said Dennis Dick, general manager of Goodyear's Chemical Division.

The company will expand the capacity of its Beaumont, Texas, chemical plant by about 25 percent by 1999 and two new plants will be constructed, one somewhere in North America, probably in the Gulf Coast region, and one in Europe, Dick said.

In addition to Niagara Falls, the other chemical plants slated for upgrades are in Akron; Calhoun, Ga.; Houston and Bayport, Texas; and Le Havre, France.

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