The Mayor of Denison says the loss of 400 jobs with the announcement of the closing of the Tyson Foods plants was a big economic blow, but he says they had prepared for its possibility. Mayor Brad Bonner says Tyson did provide short-term severance by keeping the workers on employee status for 60 days.
“That means that for 60 days they’re being paid on a 35-hour work week, but they are not expected to report to work,” Bonner says. “Also, they are offering quite an incentive package. if employees would move from Denison to their Lexington, Nebraska plant, the are offering them a cash incentive and a month in a hotel to help them re-settle there.”
Quality Food Processors announced it is expanding its bacon and processed meat plant in Denison, on the heels of the Tyson closing announcement. Bonner says Farmland foods also needs workers.
“We have about 500 jobs open inside the county — we need people to work. And so the city has been doing everything we can to make sure people know that we want them here, we like them here, and doing everything that we can to get them to choose us to be their community,” Donner.
Bonner said the city was able to act quickly when the closing occurred because they had an economic emergency plan in place ahead of time. “We had a scare about a year ago, they were looking at closing, and at that time as a city we said just like we need to be prepared if a natural disaster happens, we need to be prepared if an economic disaster happened. Obviously, 400 jobs being eliminated in one day constitutes that,” Donner said.
Iowa Workforce Development, public mental health experts, Western Iowa Tech, Region XII and other entities that can help the employees deal with the transition were brought in right away. Bonner will host a Mayor Town Hall meeting Friday at 9 a.m. that will include representatives from Iowa Workforce Development and other employers who will offer more information to the displaced workers.
Iowa Workforce Development met with Tyson employees this past Tuesday and will be back in Denison next Tuesday, August 25th, as they partner with the Denison Chamber and Development Corporation to host a job fair from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. at the Denison Armory.
(Reporting by Chantelle Grove, KCIM, Carroll)