After 73 years in business, the Electrolux washer-drier factory in Webster City will close today as 500 employees walk out for the final time.
At one time, the facility employed 2,300 workers. Production at the plant is being moved to Juarez, Mexico. David Toyer, an economic development consultant for Webster City, says the community will survive this serious setback.
“There’s going to be some challenging times ahead, at least in the immediate future,” Toyer says. “There are some great programs and services available for the workers through the trade adjustment assistance and other things that a lot of other agencies are doing to help the people out who are being dislocated.” Last summer, Webster City was selected to serve as the manufacturing center for an Ames-based electric car company. Toyer says he’s gotten numerous inquiries about the progress of this new venture, called the EnVision Motor Company.
The proposal holds “wonderful” promise for Webster City, but he notes, “Obviously, it hasn’t taken off as fast as many people would have liked it to, but what they’re doing there and the foundation they’re building for their business is going to be better in the long run. I anticipate great things from them.” When announced last July, it was hoped the electric car factory would employ up to 300 people, but it’s still in the planning stages. Webster City is also home for a plastic mold manufacturing facility, a chicken hatchery and an ag chemical distributor and manufacturer. Toyer said firms are hiring in the community and new businesses are being shepherded.
Former Electrolux workers, and other people, are unveiling novel ideas for new businesses and Toyer says they’re working with those people to link them with the Small Business Development Center in Fort Dodge to give them a solid foundation. The Iowa Workforce Development office says the unemployment rate for Hamilton County in February was at an even nine-percent, up from January’s figure of 8.1%.
Officials of Electrolux are not planning any ceremony to mark the closing of the Webster City plant. Members of the Webster City UAW 442 and their spouses and retirees are invited to a special get-together Friday night at the Moose Lodge. Learn about the city at: “www.buildwebstercity.com“.
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City