Republican U-S Senate candidate Greg Ganske before giving a The Blue Bird school bus plant in Mount Pleasant will close October 1st, putting 350 people out of work. The Georgia-based company announced in August there’d be a temporary shutdown, but executives made it permanent yesterday. Ron Parker, Governor Tom Vilsack’s press secretary, says the Governor is “profoundly disappointed” Blue Bird is leaving his hometown, and Vilsack asked the company to provide severance pay, and to reconsider their ban on letting workers transfer to other Blue Bird plants. Parker says the Governor strongly feels it’s a decision based on bottom-line profits rather than the economic security of the families. Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Gross says Vilsack bears some responsibility for the closure.Gross says Vilsack should have been more aggressive in encouraging Blue Bird to expand the plant and shift chassis production to Mount Pleasant.Gross says it’s a lost opportunity and proof there’s a need for a “change at the top” to prevent these things from happening. Gross went to college in Mount Pleasant, and he says the plant closure is “devastating to southeast Iowa.” Gross says back in the 1970’s when he went to school there, the Bluebird jobs were the best paying.Parker says Vilsack can’t be blamed for economic forces beyond his control.Parker says the national recession has caused layoffs throughout the state, and the economic turn-around isn’t benefiting all workers. Parker says Vilsack worked with state economic development officials to offer the company an incentive package to stay in Mount Pleasant. He says the governor made a strong effort with local officials as well as with officials in Georgia to ensure them and remind them of the work ethic and productivity of the Mt. Pleasant workers.State Workforce Development officials will be in Mount Pleasant this morning to meet with workers and provide information about what benefits are available.
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