Briggs and Stratton facility to close in Murray, Ky.; consolidate with Poplar Bluff plant

Heartland community reacts to losing hundreds of jobs

MURRAY, Ky. (KFVS) - After more than three decades in Murray, Kentucky the Briggs and Stratton Facility is set to close.

The Corporation announced the closure on Thursday, August 15.

Corporation officials said the market for small vertical-shaft engines has not grown for various reasons. This includes a difficult housing market driven by the lack of affordable single-family homes in the United States, officials said.

Briggs & Stratton plant in Murray, Ky. will close. (Source: KFVS)
Briggs & Stratton plant in Murray, Ky. will close. (Source: KFVS) (Source: KFVS)

Members of the Board of Murray Calloway Economic Development Corporation said around 600 full-time positions will be affected.

Board members said the majority of employees are from Calloway County but a significant amount of workers are from Graves Co., Ky, Marshall Co., Ky. and Henry Co., Tenn. as well.

They said they expect tens of millions of dollars in lost wages.

Employees impacted by the consolidation of plants have the opportunity to relocate to another facility, according to corporation officials.

Mark Manning is the the president of the Murray Calloway Economic Development Corporation.

“Payroll for 600 people would be 20-25 million a year,” he said. “That money normal turns over 5-7 times. so you are looking at a minimum of 100 million dollar a year hit to the community" Manning says, he's already looking for a new company to take over this space, and bring jobs back to Murray. "Somewhere out there is a company that is desperate for skilled labor and our job is to find them and make it easier for them to find us,” he said.

Cheryl Roberts is a real estate broker in Murray. She's already dealing with the fallout of the announcement. “I have several clients that I just closed on a house and so they own it and both of the spouses work at Briggs and they've already contacted me today and they are in tears and they feel like they are at their bottom. They don't know what to do. They don't know how they are going to make their mortgage they don't know how they are going to feed their children, they don't know how they are going to face tomorrow."

"It hurts, Briggs has been here for over 30 years,” Roberts added.

The plant in Poplar Bluff will be hiring to accommodate the increased production being added.

130+ jobs added to Briggs & Stratton in Poplar Bluff

Corporation officials said they plan to consolidate production of small vertical-shaft engines at the plant into the Poplar Bluff, Missouri facility.

According to officials, there will be 130 new jobs and hiring at the Poplar Bluff facility over the next 12 months. This number could increase after the first year by another 140-150.

This consolidation will take place by the fall of 2020, according to corporation officials.

Jerlyn Goodman owns the Munch-N-Pump just two minutes away from the Briggs And Stratton plant in Poplar Bluff. She hopes the talk of new jobs will bring a lot more customers to her store.

“We get a lot of their shift changes," she said. "We have an influx in the morning before they go to work and then in the afternoon, we have you know the ones going to work and coming.”

“I’ve been through this I’ve had companies go out. You feel for the people who are losing their jobs in Murray," truck driver Mike Kitchen said.

According to a release from Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, the company chose Missouri for an expansion following a competitive process with Kentucky. Poplar Bluff was chosen due to the availability of a skilled and trained workforce, as well as several buildings that could accommodate new product lines.

The facility will consolidate with a plant in Poplar Bluff, Mo.(Source: KFVS)
The facility will consolidate with a plant in Poplar Bluff, Mo.(Source: KFVS) (Source: KFVS)

One of the Missouri Department of Economic Development’s new programs, Missouri One Start, was key in the company’s decision to expand. Through the program, $175,000 is available to Briggs & Stratton to train new and existing employees. In addition, the program will provide the company with personalized recruitment and screening assistance to help with its workforce.

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