Recession and Layoffs and Unemployment and Letters and Relocation and Opinion and Downsizing and Economic Recovery and Economy and Employment and Facilities

Let's strive to keep companies here

February 2, 2009

With bleak news on the economic front and the impact here in Indianapolis, I am prompted to write this perspective.

I have seen solid, viable companies disappear due to lack of oversight and intervention. No value was placed on these losses or the impact so widely felt in their communities. I fully realize that some industries become obsolete and must go away. However, some have proven to have life unfortunately in new cities and states.

Example: Jenn-Air Co., division of Maytag Corp., left the city 12 years ago and relocated to Tennessee, based on an incentive from that state. The loss to the city was over $200 million a year in annual sales and over 900 jobs lost.

Replacement for this type of job loss is apparently life science or bio-medical, but I don't see how. The employee for this new direction is higher-skilled (at a higher schooling cost) and this new facility requires fewer personnel.

I cite this company, but there are others, like P.R. Mallory, now part of Emerson and soon to go away as well. This company, while much smaller than in its heyday, has facilities in China for manufacturing. This division was folded into a division in St. Louis and will go the way of Jenn-Air.

We say we are interested now in what Asia has to offer the city and state—well, here is another lost opportunity. Rather than skating to where the puck is, as Wayne Gretzky once said, "skate to where it will be." I would add, don't lose sight of viable entities in your own backyard.

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Roland H. Newman Sr.

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