We’ve provided exhaustive coverage of the announced closure of Whirlpool’s Fort Smith operations thanks to our content partner, The City Wire.
Today, the Wall Street Journal takes a look at the plant closure, its impact on Fort Smith, and the general decline in manufacturing for the west Arkansas gateway city during the past few decades.
Fort Smith leaders are determined to turn the situation around and they have a few tools in the toolbox, but a big challenge as well.
From the WSJ:
Local government and business leaders hope to attract a manufacturer to take over the old Whirlpool plant, with its sky blue walls and nearly 28 acres of floor space. Along with the usual state and local incentives for investment, the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce has a $2.2 million fund to encourage new businesses.
Paul Harvel, president of the chamber, says it would consider providing as much as $500,000 in a grant to a company willing to make a major investment at the old Whirlpool plant.
One challenge in finding new jobs for the Whirlpool workers is that many of them are near retirement age. The average age of its hourly work force in Fort Smith is 53, the company says.
Fort Smith will replace all the lost jobs, vows the chamber’s Mr. Harvel: “Is it going to happen immediately? Probably not.”
You can access the full WSJ story at this link.