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Ford, AOL Turn the Tables on Layoff News

January 25, 2010
In a turn of events following 18 months of constant reports of layoffs, two major U.S. companies are planning to beef up staffing in a big way.

Ford Motor Co. plans to add 1,200 jobs when it begins making the Explorer sport utility vehicle at its Chicago factory, while AOL announced plans to hire an undetermined number of engineers and other techies to staff a “New York Technology Center” two months after laying off a third of its global staff.

Adding the Explorer probably will mean bringing a second shift back to the Far South Side plant, which has been down to one shift for the past year. The factory now employs about 1,400 workers.

Ford’s parts-stamping plant in Chicago Heights, which employs about 750 workers, also would be helped by the arrival of another vehicle at the Far South Side facility.
 
Ford is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in Illinois on launching the new Explorer model that will be built here. It has been retrofitting the plant for months.

The recently spun-off AOL—which announced in November that it would cut 2,500 jobs, or a third of its global staff—hired digital entrepreneur and former Google executive Jeff Reynar for the new position of head of technology for engineering and products in New York.

The one-time Google engineering manager will build out and manage the soon-to-be-created New York Technology Center, AOL Inc. announced Monday, January 25. Reynar will be recruiting engineers from around the Northeast to work on the technological underpinnings of AOL’s growing content business.

The center will be based in AOL’s lower Manhattan headquarters.

The company declined to say how many recruits will be needed, how big the New York center will be or when it will get off the ground. It will be one of a half-dozen technology hubs at AOL, including those in Dulles, Virginia; San Francisco; Bangalore; and Tel Aviv, Israel. All of the hubs will be expanding, the company said.

“We want to be known as a place where world-class engineering drives world-class results for our company and the consumers and partners we serve,” AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong said in a statement.

The company is also looking for a new global chief technology officer, according to the announcement. Current technology chief Ted Cahall is moving on. 

Filed by Matthew Flamm of Crain’s New York Business and John Pletz of Crain’s Chicago Business. Both are sister publications of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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