The American Axle and Manufacturing plant, which opened in Paris as Cloyes Gear and Products, Inc in the 1960s, will close by Dec. 31, according to Paris Mayor Daniel Rogers.

Rogers said he was told by an official at the plant Thursday, the same day employees were informed. Rogers also said he had been speaking with officials at AAM, which also owns a manufacturing plant in Subiaco, for months regarding rumors the Paris plant was closing.

“I have spoken to AAM management about rumors for months and the reason for the closing is that the closing of the Paris plant makes the most economic and logistical sense for the company,” Rogers said. “Forging manufacturing is a large part of the manufacturing done in the Paris plant. AAM has several forging manufacturing plants within this division in the midwest. Some of those plants are under utilized. So, at the end of the day, it’s a business decision the company made. They can add those jobs there where the other forging manufacturing is done.”

The Paris plant presently employs 225 people, Rogers said.

“AAM has let me know that a significant number of employees will be retained and put to work at the Subiaco plant,” Rogers said. “A small number of employees will work for the Cloyes Aftermarket manufacturing group, and the remaining employees will be laid off and will have the option to return to work as attrition happens within the company.”

Rogers said officials at the plant refused to be more specific about jobs.

“He told me they didn’t want to say what significant means,” Rogers said. “I was under the impression it would be substantial. I am hoping it will be over half.”

Rogers also said he had feared something worse.

“My fears for months have been that this could have been much, much worse,” he said. “I feared losing almost every job in Paris. Now its been announced that a significant number will be retained.”

Rogers also said he has been working with Cloyes Aftermarket group for several months to find a building they could operate from in Paris.

“Having them in Paris is very likely,” Rogers said. “They want to be here because of the workforce. My impression is they are wanting a lease agreement with AAM. We want them here. We need every job we can get in light of this news.”

Rogers also said the community needs to redouble efforts to recruit new jobs.

“Moving forward, we have to work hard to try and recruit a new business to come in,” Rogers said. “I’m being told that more than likely the 153,000 square foot building will be put up for sale. We have to be proactive and look at our assets in recruiting new business.

“It all starts with our people,” he said. “We have an amazing workforce. People that will go to work and work hard are what companies want in a workforce and we have the best people in the country in our community. We have a state of the art career center that we just opened. The goal of the career center is workforce development. We have the ability to tailor a program around a company, to specifically train a workforce for them. We will use this career center to our advantage to recruit new business to Paris, I can assure you. I believe we are much better prepared than most communities to recruit new business, and we will certainly use these assets in recruiting a new company. I also believe we have huge growth potential from the new industrial roller manufacturing company in our industrial park once they get started.”