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The owner of a plant that has made school buses in Conway for decades says that will end soon, affecting up to 477 jobs at the facility.

IC Corp.’s parent company, Warrenville, Ill.-based Navistar, told employees Thursday it would cease bus-production operations at its Conway plant.

“We have to consolidate our bus-assembly operations into one facility,” Navistar spokesman Roy Wiley said. “Unfortunately for Conway, Tulsa is a much newer facility.”

Navistar opened the Tulsa plant in 2000, moving into a former aircraft manufacturing facility. Wiley said a smaller operation would continue at Conway, making parts for buses.

Wiley said the economy has reduced bus orders from school districts.

According to Wiley, as many as 477 jobs could be involved, either through layoffs or dismissals. He said layoffs will not start until Jan. 4.

Conway Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brad Lacy said the loss of that many jobs was horrible news for the community. But the impact is more than economic, he said.

“This community has been in bus production since the 1930s, and it was something we identified with our community,” Lacy said. “When you lose that, you lose a piece of your history.”

The company was long known as Ward School Bus Mfg. Inc. and headed by Charles Ward. Ownership changes led to different names — American Transportation Corp., AmTran and most recently IC Corp.

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