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Freightliner Brings 1,100 Jobs Back To Rowan County

A North Carolina Freightliner plant.

A North Carolina Freightliner plant. Talk about a roller-coaster economy. The fortunes of tiny Cleveland - population 871 - rise and fall with the town's biggest employer, a Freightliner Truck manufacturing plant. From one season to the next, the plant adds shifts and cuts them again depending on global demand for its big trucks. In 2009, employment at the plant was 3,500 workers - four times the entire population of Cleveland. Then it slashed all but 650 of those jobs, leaving the town's economy in a lurch. "It was very depressing," says Cleveland Mayor John Steele. "Most people such as our restaurants and grocery stores and such like that would not see the volume." Yet Steele says Freightliner stayed loyal to his town and always said the jobs would come back when the demand for trucks did. "And you know, they had not closed it totally, so they've been building back up so we're very pleased," says Steele. "I always felt that the Freightliner situation was understood by both Clevelanders and also as by the owners of the company and so forth." Now Cleveland's economic roller coaster is on the upswing. Freightliner's parent company Daimler Trucks North America says it'll hire 1,100 workers by September to fill a second shift at the Cleveland plant. Most of those jobs will go to workers who were laid off in 2009, says the company. That'll bring the plant's total employment to around 2,500 by the end of this year.