Manufacturing Accounts for 42% of Job Losses in 12 Months

by Jamie Walden  on Monday, May. 11, 2009 12:00 am  

Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. fell to fourth in the rankings this year of largest manufacturers. Pilgrim’s shut down its chicken processing plant in Clinton in August last year, shedding 600 Arkansas jobs. That move came on the heels of an announcement by Pilgrim’s that it planned to shut down the “tray-pack chicken business” at its plant in El Dorado, which also cut 600 jobs.

New developments in the Pilgrim’s Pride chicken saga reveal that the state of Arkansas and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission are working with an unnamed group of investors to keep the El Dorado plant open.

If all goes well, it won’t be the first turnaround engineered by state officials and local chambers of commerce.

When news broke that Cooper Tire & Rubber planned to close one of four plants, state officials and the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce leapt into action. Long story short: The Arkansas plant is still open.

Randy Zook, president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, said such legwork was the best strategy to fend off more job losses.

Zook said the state chamber was urging local chambers to nurture relationships with the owners of local plants. Zook said this pre-emptive tactic could pay off if some of those businesses later decide to make cuts.

“We’re working with other chambers across the state to make sure that community leadership in every part of the state realizes that decisions to keep open or to close plants are decisions made by people,” Zook said. “And it’s very productive right now to have a personal relationship with corporate leadership of any business that owns or operates a plant in a given area.”



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