Whirlpool To Officially Close Fort Smith Factory June 29

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 106 views 

It’s official. Unfortunately.

Chuck Knapp, Whirlpool’s director of human resources at its Fort Smith manufacturing plant, sent a note to Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders setting June 29 as the date Whirlpool will close its Fort Smith operation.

The plant closure will result in the loss of 917 jobs. However, Whirlpool’s Fort Smith plant employed more than 4,500 in early 2006.

Whirlpool announced Oct. 27, 2011, it would close the large Fort Smith plant that produces refrigerators and has also produced ice-makers and trash compactors.

The letter, dated April 25, is required by the federal WARN Act to inform local governments of layoffs.

“At the present time, we expect that the closure will result in the release of an estimated 826 hourly and 8 salaried employees June 29, 2012. An additional estimated 77 salaried will be laid off July 6, 2012, 27 hourly employees will be laid off by July 31, 2012, and all remaining (estimated to be 6) hourly employees will be laid off by August 31,” Knapp noted in the letter.

The plant closure will mark the end of more than 45 years of Whirlpool operations in Fort Smith.

The loss of the about 1,000 Whirlpool jobs in Fort Smith will result in the overall loss of 1,550 jobs and a labor income reduction of $56.9 million, according to a University of Arkansas at Little Rock study. The total job loss impact based on the top level of employment is estimated at 5,422.

Of the 472 non-Whirlpool jobs estimated to be lost in the Fort Smith region as a result of Whirlpool’s closure, 300 are estimated to come from Whirlpool vendors.

“Reduction of 1,000 jobs at Whirlpool (WP) causes other business to reduce employment by approximately 300,” University of Arkansas at Little Rock economist Gregory Hamilton noted in his report. “The loss of payrolls to the community and local expenditures derived from those payrolls causes a loss of 172 jobs.”

The 172 job figure is referred to as the “induced” effect from losing the Whirlpool jobs.

Michael Tilley with our content partner, The City Wire, is the author of this report. He can be reached by email at [email protected].