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Ironton should look to the future with hope

Even though it has only been one week since we received the catastrophic news that Cabletron is closing the Ironton division, we are already meeting and planning to find a replacement business.

Monday, April 05, 1999

Even though it has only been one week since we received the catastrophic news that Cabletron is closing the Ironton division, we are already meeting and planning to find a replacement business. As soon as the media released this story, our phones started ringing. Businesses are interested in this brand new building with a ready, available workforce.

Not only is Cabletron closing the Ironton division, the New Hampshire and Ireland divisions will be "substantially" cut. During my last discussion with Cabletron officials, I asked them what we could have done differently that could have prevented this from happening. Cabletron’s answer was that everything that could have been done was done. Cabletron said the workforce here is second to none. There were production goals set that were almost impossible to make, but the dedicated employees met all of them. Cabletron also brought in additional equipment to help meet the competitive nature of the industry. Corporate losses still occurred. They tried every way to stay in the manufacturing business. Finally, the decision was made to outsource all manufacturing.

The "outsourcing" or "farming out" of work is not new to our community. Several other industries have some of this service done for them. The advantage to the corporation is it can turn the production off and on as the supply is demanded. Therefore, they simply order more or less to meet their needs. This helps the corporation’s profit and loss since they have no overhead in the manufacturing process. They only pay for products ordered and make profit on what is sold.

Cabletron is still meeting their financial obligations even though there are many details to be worked out under the legal binding documents that entangle this project. My long-term relationship with the LEDC leads me to believe that this project will come to a conclusion we will all feel good about.

In the past week, there has been a media frenzy on the subject. No matter where you go, it is the topic of discussion. The entire community and Tri-State got behind the effort to develop and keep Cabletron’s operations here in Ironton. It seems to me that Cabletron would have at least given the employees an opportunity to do a buy-out and they could have been the outsource Cabletron was looking for.

Dayton Malleable had similar problems 20 years ago, and this was a solution. Ironton Iron is now the second largest employer in Ironton. A friend told me years ago that "catastrophe creates opportunity." Opportunity and unity is the direction in which we all need to be going with this catastrophe. We are going to have a state of the art facility and over 300 trained and ready employees available.

Everything an employer would need is available in this industrial park.

The first thing we need to remember is that Cabletron is still the lessee of the property and will continue to manufacture there until phasing out in June. We have been working this past week to bring together all of the parties, local through federal, that have an interest in this business endeavor. I expect this to happen within the next week. After it does, we will know what options we have and will formulate a direction to go with Cabletron.

During this time, we will be gathering data from all local, state and federal governments, as well as private through commercial sectors of employers. We will then match their needs with our opportunity. We should also have a committee appointed to help in the recruitment of businesses for other sites that could be developed such as restaurants, motels, etc.

The point I want to make to everyone who will be affected by this closing is that "There is Hope." LEDC and I are doing everything we can to bring in another business that will pick up those who worked at Cabletron and possibly more.

As mayor of Ironton, this is the first time I have seen so many people interested in a business site. There are already several suggested replacements, but we are looking for one that will fit all our needs. Rest assured that a business will not be placed there to make the lease.

Everything will be taken in consideration – primarily the need for a large workforce. It could be possible for an immediate job turn around. We have lots of opportunities before us. We do have hope.

Robert A. Cleary is the mayor of the City of Ironton.