By Bob Weaver

Goodrich says a sudden downturn since the events of September 11 is why the Spencer plant is being closed. The facility is expected to close sometime in 2002 with 147 employees losing their jobs. The company is eliminating a total of 2,400 positions, affecting three plants.

Goodrich in Spencer would not confirm the number of employees from Calhoun County, but a worker said "It could be almost half." Calhoun resident John Simmers is president of the local union,and Scott Bunch is vice-president.

David L. Burner, Chairman and CEO of Goodrich, told the local employees "Many of our customers in the industry are experiencing significant losses, layoffs and reduced deliveries. In addition, the already-soft U.S. economy now appears to be headed for a recession." The Spencer plant produces inflatable slides used to evacuate passengers from aircraft in emergency situations.

Burner said more than half of Goodrich's business comes from commercial aviation. Boeing, one of the companies biggest customers, announced thousands of layoffs and cut-backs immediately after the terrorist attack on America.

Christine Probett, Vice President and General Manager of Aircraft Evacuation Systems, an executive over the Spencer operation, said Spencer's manufacturing activities will be sent to Colorado Springs and Phoenix. "The Spencer plant will close upon the completion of the transition of all products in late 2002," she said.

A Goodrich employee told The Hur Herald that Goodrich is sending some of their operations to India, but a company spokesperson, Gale Warner, told The Herald "None of the operations would be shifted abroad."

Goodrich closed their Calhoun site a few years ago, moving it to Spencer with some local employees transferring. Spencer Mayor Terry Williams said the impact on the local economy will be severe, particularly since the loss of 370 Kellwood positions. Those jobs went to foreign countries.

Williams and other Roane County officials said they will negotiate with Goodrich to keep the jobs here. Spencer, not unlike Calhoun County, has suffered through other job losses, including Norris Industries and the Spencer State Hospital.

Goodrich employs 20,000 people worldwide, and has operations in several different countries. Last year they reported sales of $4.4 billion.

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