Missouri Economic Leaders Working to Save Caruthersville Jobs

 Missouri economic leaders say they're doing everything they can to make sure a Bootheel barge manufacturing plant doesn’t have to shut down its operation. As Heartland News first reported back in December, the Trinity Barge Fabrication plant in Caruthersville has plans to lay off more than 500 workers next month, due to a drop in barge demand.  In the nation’s slow economy, Trinity just isn’t getting enough barge orders to make ends meet.  On its current track, the plant will run out of short-term work by February, forcing the company to lay off 508 of the 545 employees.  Now state economic leaders say they'd like to avoid those layoffs at all costs. Joe Driskill, director of Missouri’s Economic Development Department, made the trip from Jefferson City to Caruthersville to meet with company leaders on Friday.  Driskill says his department is suggesting possible solutions that range from reworking the company's finances to making a different product at the Caruthersville plant.  “We can't get into the details of what we're doing at this point, but we're trying to examine all aspects of their business to see where we might be able to be of assistance to them,” Driskill told Heartland News on Wednesday.  “We think that Trinity Marine is a great employer for the county and the area, and as a result, we do need to do everything we can to try to help them stay in operation.”  Driskill says nothing is official yet, but he could know more by next week. He stresses that the goal of the Economic Development Department is to not only bring business into Missouri, but also to keep Missouri workers in the jobs they already have.  The department would especially like to save well paying jobs like the ones in Caruthersville, which earn an average salary of 33-thousand dollars a year. Trinity Marine is currently the largest employer in Pemiscot County.  If the layoffs do happen, the county’s unemployment rate will jump from 10.2 percent to around 14 percent.