Plant closing in Charleston affects 127 jobs

CHARLESTON, MO (KFVS) - The Gates Corporation confirms the Gates Rubber Company in Charleston will close, leaving 127 people without a job.

The plant in Charleston makes hydraulic hoses used in tractors and airplanes.

Tom Reeve, the executive VP with Gates Corporation, says the company made the announcement to employees Thursday.

Reeve says the plant will ramp down production to prepare for the closing.  No official time of closing has been given.

Reeve says employees will be offered a severance package.  The company opened in 1981 in Charleston.

"I just hate to see it close," said Laymon Simmons.

"It's just sad," said Chris Hart.

"He said did you hear about Gates closing, I said what, he said gates is closing, I said oh surely not," said Simmons.

Simmons worked at Gates for more than 10 years, but retired almost 15 years ago.

"He said yeah they're closing and I said oh no, boy I know all of the people that work over there, good place to work, and the people are so nice over there," said Simmons.

"Very sad, because I'm a school teacher and a lot of my children's parents work at Gates," said Hart.

Hart says she's watched numerous companies close in the area.

"Our school population is decreasing, we've gone from a size 3A school to a 2A school, and I think that will continue as long as we lose jobs," said Hart.

"Things are so bad here in Charleston, boy there's just practically no work, and no income at all," said Simmons.

"It gives us a lack of hope and then people move away," said Hart.

"These folks won't be buying houses, won't be buying cars, you know all of a sudden they don't have expendable income," said Ed Dust, the Director of Economic Development in Sikeston.

"It's going to hurt this whole town, it's going to be bad for the people that has to depend on Gates for food, or anything like that, and I don't know how they're going to make it," said Simmons.

"Now all those companies, you go to Kennett, you go to Malden, you go to Dexter, any of those towns, Sikeston, Charleston, all those towns have these old industries that the shelf life is off of them," said Dust.

Despite tough times, the people in the Heartland seem to keep a positive outlook.

"I know we have a lot of families that are worried about what's going to happen, I understand that, but just keep the faith, just keep your head up, we will find opportunities," said Dust.

"Just to be patient, and don't move away, maybe something will come, you know I don't know," said Hart.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.