On Thursday, April 28, Caterpillar announced that it will shut down its facility in Oxford among four other plants in United States within 18 months leaving around 240 people in Oxford and Lafayette County without a job.
Caterpillar issued a letter explaining its decision to close five facilities, including Oxford, was to “take costs out of its business to align with lower demand as part of an aggressive and significant restructuring initiative first announced in September 2015.”
The Oxford facility produced hose couplings, and the company said it will move some operations from there into its facility located in Menominee, Michigan. The remainder of operations will be transitioned to suppliers.
In the letter, the company stated:
“The closure will impact around 240 positions. Production is expected to continue into 2017. The final transition for consolidation is expected to be completed within the next 12-18 months.
“…Caterpillar recognizes these restructuring actions are painful for its dedicated workforce, their families and the impacted communities. The decisions are difficult, however, it is necessary to have the right capacity in place for the tough market conditions the company is facing.”
The economical impact by this closing is substantial, according to Jon Maynard, president and CEO of Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and Chamber of Commerce.
Maynard said, “Caterpillar is a regional employer, so it doesn’t affect just Lafayette County, or it doesn’t affect just Oxford. In fact, 60 percent of their employees are actually residing outside of Lafayette County. So what you’re looking at here, directly in Lafayette County, about 100 jobs. So, what does that mean for our economy? We’ve got about a year before they begin to cut these jobs, close that plant.”
Maynard is working on a plan with other county and economical leaders to market the facility, that will be sold by the Caterpillar, to a new employer, possibly a company working in similar manufacturing processes that will utilize the skills available in the region.
Maynard said, “We would like to be able to backfill with a company that will employ more, or create more jobs than the jobs that are being lost by Caterpillar’s downsizing. That’s our plan, there’s no guarantees that it will be a seamless transition, there is no guarantees that we won’t have a lag in the time. So in other words, if they close and they call it March of 2017, we may not have full employment in that building for another year or more. There’s no guarantee. But our plan is to try to backfill those jobs before there’s a gap in the closure. It could actually be a net positive for the area, but right now we’re just working to market the facility and backfill that operation as quickly as possible.”
Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Randall Haley is the social media manager and staff writer for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.