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International Harvester announced Friday that it would close its...

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- International Harvester announced Friday that it would close its Louisville foundry by next Oct. 31, laying off 710 people.

The foundry, a former wartime factory which first poured iron as a Harvester operation in 1949, had a peak work force of 6,500 in 1975.

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The future of the Harvester foundry had been in question for years and just last summer the company failed in an effort to sell the foundry to Louisville developer Frank Metts.

A Harvester spokesman in Chicago said the adjacent IH forge in Louisville would be unaffected by the foundry shutdown. The Harvester statement said an undetermined amount of foundry work would be shifted to Indianapolis.

The firm said it plans to begin meeting soon with United Auto Workers union officials to discuss an agreement on benefits for workers facing layoffs.

John Horne, an IH vice president, said it was a 'difficult decision' to close the plant.

The decision, 'which is irrevokable, was made only after the economics of every feasible alternative were thoroughly explored,' Horne said.

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