Many worried in Winamac over economic future

By: Ryan Famuliner Email
By: Ryan Famuliner Email

The economic struggles right now are not just big city problems; small towns are feeling the crunch too.

Many in the town of Winamac are concerned for the future, as some of their major employers are adapting to the economy.

We'd received a few emails over the last few days from Winamac residents saying their town was in dire straights. All 3 major employers are on work breaks for the holidays; and some workers are wondering if they'll even return after the first of the year.

While community development is cautiously optimistic, many are worried about the future.

“It’s a shame that we are having problems in some of our larger factories. Seeing how people are affected by it, it's sad, said Alex Haschel, Director of the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce.

Haschel also runs a business in downtown Winamac with her family, and says she’s noticed some people tightening their budgets.

“Its very frightening, since we've already experienced it once, to think it might happen again,” Haschel said.

She's talking about a factory pulling up and leaving. According to archived newspaper reports, back in 1999, Eaton, Inc. of Winamac, that employed almost 400 people, did just that. The company shut down its car part manufacturing plant, and moved it to Mexico.

“To think of what families might decide that they have to leave to find jobs for both spouses,” Haschel said, about the prospect that another plant may close.

Currently, in the town of about 2,500 people, around 1,000 work at one of 3 companies: Braun Corporation, Plymouth Tube, and Galbreath Incorporated.

All 3 are currently on a holiday break.

“It's not unusual, but its happening during a time of uncertainty. So I think folks are seeing this as hey is this a bad sign. Well, it’s the usual thing, but lets hope it does pick up as it traditionally has at the beginning of next year,” said Dan Dolezal, with the Pulaski County Community Development Commission.

Dolezal says Galbreath appears to having the most issues lately, with consistent staff cuts over the years, and layoffs in the last few weeks.

“From a high of I think over 270 employees at one time there, down to just over 150; and that’s the economy,” Dolezal said.

But at the same time, Dolezal says it doesn't seem to be history repeating just yet.

“They have assured us that tithe Indiana facility is not on the list for closing or anything like that,” Dolezal said.

Dolezal also says some of the problems may have been exaggerated as rumors about the companies have spread around town. For instance, he says none of the companies have said they have plans to move from Winamac, yet some in the community have been saying that’s the case.

He says the community would be better served not to spread rumors. At the same time, he recognizes the fact that times are tumultuous.

“My crystal ball is very, very hazy right now,” Dolezal said.

Some WNDU talked to Friday who have been affected by cut-backs and layoffs at some of the factories say they're cutting back across the board. Some are even skipping Christmas this year!

However, none of them wanted to be interviewed for this story, since some are still employed at the companies despite hour cutbacks, and others would like to try to get their jobs back.

The plant closings for the holidays are common, although Dolezal says Galbreath doesn't usually take as long of a break. Meanwhile, the chamber says Braun may also consider extending their break as their sales have been slowing down.

To see the distribution of jobs in Pulaski County, follow the link to the Community Development Commission’s website below.


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WNDU - Channel 16 54516 State Road 933 South Bend, IN 46637 Front Desk: 574-284-3000 Newsroom: 574-284-3016 Email: newscenter16@wndu.com
Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 36467659 - wndu.com/a?a=36467659
Gray Television, Inc.