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The owner of Michigan news media company MLive said it is closing its Grand Rapids newspaper printing plant and laying off 71 workers.

Advance Local Media LLC, which owns and operates eight Michigan newspapers and the MLive.com news website, said effective Oct. 5, the printing of the publications will be moved from the Grand Rapids suburb of Walker to Cleveland, where the company produces the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com.

“It was a difficult decision, especially since we have such dedicated employees who are really focused on helping us be the best that we can be," Tim Gruber, MLive Media Group's president and chief revenue officer, told MLive.com. "This decision wasn’t taken lightly.”

He said company management told its employees about the move Wednesday. The Walker printing facility prints 375,000 papers a week and has 26 full-time employees and 45 part-time workers, according to Gruber. He said the workers will be offered a severance package or a job at the Cleveland facility.

Located on Interstate 96 west of Grand Rapids, the Walker printing plant opened in 2004. It prints the Grand Rapids Press, the Muskegon Chronicle, the Kalamazoo Gazette and the Jackson Citizen Patriot. 

MLive also produces the Ann Arbor News, the Bay City Times, the Flint Journal and the Saginaw News.

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