Longtime Ashe County manufacturing company United Chemi-Con announced to its employees today that there will be “significant layoffs” in the near future.
“I regret hearing this news of further layoffs of workers in Ashe County,” said Cabot Hamilton, the executive director of the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce.
“The Chamber is ready to work with Wilkes Community College and economic development to do what is necessary to retrain and find new jobs for employees,” said Hamilton.
United Chemi-Con is also working with county officials and Wilkes Community College to help relocate workers, according to Sandy Calhoun, United Chemi-con’s human resources manager.
Ashe County Manager Dr. Pat Mitchell and Chris Robertson, Wilkes Community College’s associate vice president of the Ashe campus, were among those who met with United Chemi-Con’s officials to discuss ways to help workers.
“It’s heartbreaking to see when a number of employees who have worked for Chemi-Con for years are being laid off,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell also said “this would be a challenge for the community,” and “I will do what I can to recruit more businesses to the area.”
Calhoun said the perminent layoffs are expected to begin between December 2012 and March 2013. Calhoun did not say the exact number of employees that would be affected. The Lansing plant currently employs 261 people.
United Chemi-Con moved to Ashe County in 1992 after buying out Sprague Electric Company. The building that housed United Chemi-Con was constructed in 1953.
United Chemi-Con is a subsidiary of Nippon Chemi-Con, a Japanese company that was greatly affected by the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011.
Calhoun said the layoffs at the Lansing plant have been partially caused by the tsunami that hit Japan in last year. The tsunami, combined with the reccession and and changing market environments, has lead to a decrease in business and market share, said Calhoun.