Some 200 workers are clocking out for the final time today in Newton as the shutdown of the Maytag plant after the sale to Whirlpool takes another step. Newton Mayor Chaz Allen says its not an easy thing for the community.
Allen says his heart goes out all of them and says they knew it was coming, but it’s still tough to have happen three days before Christmas. Allen says everyone is working hard to try and get the workers employed again as soon as possible. The latest job cuts drop the number of workers to around 660. The washer-dryer plant had some 26-hundred workers four years ago.
While the shutdown efforts move forward, the Newton City council approved a nearly eight million dollar re-development project Thursday for the downtown Maytag campus that is expected to bring 43 new jobs. Iowa Telecom plans to consolidate its operations at the campus. Two of the buildings would go to the Des Moines Area Community College for a new vocational and technical training center.
Newton Economic Development Corporation executive director Kim Didier told the council its important for the community to take control of its own destiny. Didier says the issue is that they don’t want to wait two years, and they want to do something to gain momentum back instead of waiting and starting from the bottom.
There was some criticism from the public that the council was voting on the redevelopment plan just hours after the plan had been finalized. Councilman Mike Hanson says they had to move because there was another buyer that wanted to close the deal before the end of the year. But Hanson says that buyer didn’t want the downtown buildings.
Hanson says that buyer made it clear he didn’t want the buildings and had no definite plans for the buildings. A Whirpool official says there’s a strong possibility that the company will announce the sale of the Maytag production facilities before the end of the year.