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DuPont shuts small sites before big cuts

Ahead of Dow merger

Does DuPont's break-up make sense? Bernstein analyst Jonas Oxgaard says big savings are unlikely and the split may hurt prospects for DuPont's best businesses. Other analysts expect bigger cuts. Read the piece in Sundays' Inquirer here.

ALSO: As DuPont Co. mergers brace for more than 5,000 job cuts, retirement "packages" and "Decision Days" in advance of its proposed merger with Dow Chemical Co., the Wilmington manufacturer is closing small facilities, some of which were built with help from state taxpayers who had hoped the jobs would be around boosting the local economy for years to come. The moves, in combination with others, shed some light on where the company is headed. Local reports:

Maryville Daily Times: DuPont has closed its ethanol production facility in Vonore, Tenn. The plant was constructed starting in 2007 with $70 million in state aid and $85 million in DuPont Co. investments in hopes of turning switchgrass and other marginal crops into vehicle-grade fuel and has shut in the wake of the opening of a much larger DuPont biofuel plant in Iowa..

"The core mission has been fulfilled as demonstrated by DuPont's recently opened 30 million gallons per year cellulosic ethanol facility in Nevada, Iowa," DuPont Advanced Biofuels business director Jan Koninckx said in a statement. DuPont called the shutdown "an effort to streamline operations." The Iowa plant, built for $225 million, employs 85 year-round and supports about 150 harvest-season jobs at local farms. Koninckx wants to build more plants soon. (See Des Moines Register on DuPont's new Iowa plant).

DuPont spokesman Daniel Turner clarifies: "DuPont funded the vast majority of the (Iowa) plant's construction," backed by $19 million in Department of Energy matching funds (2003-07) and additional support from the Iowa Power Fund and Grow Iowa Values fund. "DuPont is one of many companies that has been awarded government grants" for biofuel innovation,  leading to the Nevada, Iowa plant, Turner added.

Chattanooga Times Free Press: DuPont is shutting its small performance-materials facility here and consolidating the work to a plant in Richmond, Va. The move ends DuPont's long committment to the site, which lasted 11 years after DuPont sold its larger nylon production faility nearby to Koch Industries. The move idles 40 (26 DuPont workers, 14 contractors.)

Wilmington News Journal: "DuPont's hybrid seed unit, Pioneer, will completely exit the state by March 2016, a move that could eliminate several hundred research positions" at the Stine Haskell pesticide lab in Newark and the DuPont Experimental Station in Wilmington. Some jobs could move to Iowa.

"Last year, DuPont spent $35 million to build a 134,000-square-foot soybean research center at Stine Haskell for Pioneer. Work on the facility, expected to be completed in 2016, will halt as a result of Pioneer's departure from Delaware."