Jobs Lost & Jobs Gained in The Heartland

Jobs Lost & Jobs Gained in The Heartland
By: Wes Wallace

In a business world of downsizing, outsourcing, and cutting costs, it's not easy for many plants and factories in the Heartland. On Wednesday, a thousand workers at Herrin's Maytag plant found out they'd lose their jobs by the end of year.

There's a pretty long list of other plant closings or job layoffs. This includes about three hundred jobs gone at the Federal Mogul Plant in Malden, 240-jobs at the Emerson Motor Company in Kennett, dozens of workers without employment at Paducah's Gaseous Diffusion Plant, and 750 job cuts at the Continental Tire Plant in Murray.

"We're getting fewer and fewer of those manufacturing jobs in the United States, so the competition from that is keener," explains Mitch Robinson of the Cape Girardeau Area 'Magnet', "A lot of companies we talk to want their products made or want to sell to customers in our area. It's becoming a very regional market."

It's Robinson's job to find new jobs and new industry for the Cape Girardeau area. He calls his work challenging, but not impossible. "It's finding what those needs are, and every company's not going to have a match, but we try to find those and make it a win win situation."

For those who lost their jobs, it pretty much seems like the end of the world. That's especially so for the men and women nearing retirement or those with little education or other specialized training. In June of 2004, Jackson's Rubbermaid plant laid off more than a hundred workers. Enter the Workforce Investment Act. It helps provide funding and assistance for displaced workers to get on the job training, education training, or a new job.

"After the Rubbermaid layoffs, we helped a lot of those people," says John McGowan, a program coordinator for WIA, "We've done everything from send folks to get their network certification on computers, all the way to various levels of medical work, including nursing."

McGowan says the WIA program provides help in addition to unemployment benefits, and he calls the service a well kept secret. "We just don't have the advertising budget, but usually when companies close or cut jobs, people are too in shock to learn about their options," McGowan adds, "It's really a grieving process, losing that job. With this though, they are getting a great opportunity that isn't available to everybody out there, to try and help them get back on their feet, get a career path, and become productive in society.