VIRGINIA BEACH (AP) -- A Virginia automotive parts manufacturer plans to close its Virginia Beach plant at the end of January.

GearWorld of North America says it has ceased operations at the facility that produced auto parts and drive units for heavy machinery. About 60 employees have been laid off so far.

Plant manager Riccardo Ferrara tells The Virginian-Pilot ( that about five to 10 employees will remain to help shutter the facility.

Ferrara says the lackluster European economy and the decline in demand for the specific products manufactured there contributed to the closure of the plant.

GearWorld of North America is a division of the Italian company Carraro Group. The Virginia Beach facility was its only North American facility.

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