LENOIR CITY, Tenn. (AP) — After a major manufacturer announced it would close its Lenoir City plant and lay off 200 people, the mayor says he will try to come up with an incentive package to keep the plant open.
The parent company of Yale Locks, ASSA ABLOY of Sweden, announced Friday they will close their Lenoir City plant and move operations to Connecticut.
Mayor Tony Aikens told WBIR-TV in Knoxville that he hopes the city can convince the company to remain and keep the jobs in Tennessee.
"We're having a special called council meeting on Monday to offer a tax incentive, we're optimistic that will help," Aikens said.
He hopes that state and county officials can come up with offers as well.
News of the closing came as a shock to employees, who have worked at the plant for years.
Union president Joe Williams said he was nine years away from retirement.
"It's been my life for 35 years," said Williams. "I've raised my family by working here. It's really been a tough situation."
Williams said the plant has been very successful and they ship about $350,000 worth of lock on a daily basis.
Employee Stacy Arthur said when she started working at the plant 17 years ago, the company had three shifts. But in recent years, the company has cut back on employees' hours, she said.
That forced her to pick up a second job as a gas station clerk. But she said recently work has picked up and she even worked overtime this week.
"We were so busy, so that's why it shocked us so much," says Arthur.
Both Arthur and her husband work at Yale Locks and now she's worried about how she'll support her three children.
Company officials said it may take months to finalize the closure and employees were told to report to work on Monday.
"I don't know how it's going to feel to walk back in there," Arthur said.
Information from: WBIR-TV
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