Gates Corporation will be shutting down its Jefferson plant this fall, Gates Vice President Tom Reeve confirmed today.
“It's always a difficult decision to close a plant,” Reeve said.
“Our industry is always competitive, and we've taken this decision to be competitive, and provide our customers with the best product and services,” he said.
“The workers in Ashe County did a good job,” he said, adding that the workforce quality was not a factor in considering the closure.
Gates is closing the plant as part of an effort to consolidate their manufacturing capacity, he said.
Layoffs for the 247 employees at the Jefferson plant will be staggered, with severance packages based on length of service, Reeve said. The company is also offering help with worker relocation.
Unconfirmed reports of the shut-down began circulating early this morning.
Local officials reached today for comment on the closing responded with dismay.
“This is going to be devastating to the county,” said Jefferson Town Manager Cathy Howell
Ashe County Commission Chairman Larry Rhodes said, “My response is pure shock. It will be a tremendous loss to the county.”
“A community never wants to receive this kind of news for their citizens,” said Ashe County Manager Dr. Pat Mitchell.
“Gates has been an important part of our industrial economy for many years. As the company has indicated, this has no reflection on our workforce and their skills,” Mitchell said.
“This does have a direct reflection on the very competitive nature of a manufacturing environment, and where a company needs to locate for their corporate model. And apparently the company (headquartered in Denver) has made this choice,” she said.
“If there is anything that we are able to do to affect this decision we, as a community working together, will certainly attempt to do so,” Mitchell said.