Toyota Motor Corp. will close the NUMMI auto plant in Fremont next March.
The decision didn't come as a surprise but will prove devastating to the economy of Northern California. The East Bay plant employs 4,500 workers and is responsible for thousands of additional jobs in parts manufacturing and distribution. Thousands of Central Valley jobs will be lost.
"It's a big blow. For the East Bay and northern San Joaquin Valley, it's absolutely huge. An auto plants sends out waves when it closes, not just ripples," said Jeff Michael, an economist at the University of the Pacific.
As many as half the plant's employees commute from the Central Valley.
Toyota's spokeswoman Cindy Knight confirmed to the Associated Press that the plant will close next March.
The plant, formally known as New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., has been a joint venture with General Motors Corp., but its future came into grave doubt after GM dissolved the partnership following its bankruptcy reorganization. The last GM Pontiac Vibe rolled off the assembly line earlier this month, and the plant has continued to build Toyota Coollas and Tacomas there.
State officials, led by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, had mounted a campaign to save the plant by offering tax breaks and other incentives.