Whirlpool jobs leave Arkansas

(November 11, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- Whirlpool says it will not know the full impact of moving some refrigerator production from Fort Smith to Mexico for a couple of years. But Jim Pickens, Arkansas' former economic development director, says it is clear some of the 45-hundred Whirlpool jobs in Fort Smith will be lost. Pickens says he learned of Whirlpool's plans five or six weeks ago and was told only the side-by-side refrigerator line at Fort Smith would be affected by the Mexico plans. The Fort Smith plant also produces ice-makers and trash compactors. Pickens -- who retired Friday -- will continue lobbying Whirlpool and Southwest Airlines, which announced last week it would close a Little Rock reservations call center by the end of February. Michigan-based Whirlpool says it does NOT yet know where the new facility in Mexico will be located.