MONTEVIDEO - An estimated 110 workers in Montevideo will be seeking new jobs as SL-Montevideo Technology begins a six-month, staged layoff and wind-down process at its 22,000-square-foot facility on the north side of the community.
Originally a home-grown company, it has been a part of Montevideo for 50 years. Some of its employees have 20 plus years of experience.
Help in finding new employment will be provided the workers, and there is a good employment market in the area at this time, according to information from Carrie Bendix, executive director of the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council, and Luke Greiner, a regional analyst with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Bendix said the Private Industry Council will be providing dislocated worker services to the affected employees. She is planning to hold meetings for the affected workers in the coming week or two to explain the services available. Most people experience a sense of shock and need time to process what's happened after being laid off, she said.
Many of the workers have probably been employed for a long time and likely have not searched for a job for a decade or more, she added. Her office will offer help with updating their job-seeking skills, as well matching job seekers with employers. It will also help guide workers to job training opportunities.
While there is never a good time to be laid off, there are large numbers of job openings in the region at this time in what is a tight labor market, according to Greiner. The job market at this time favors job seekers and there are an abundance of openings to be filled in southwestern and west central Minnesota, he said.
There are fewer than two unemployed workers for every job opening in the region including Montevideo, according to the most recent employment data. Some of the highest demand for employees is found in the computer and electronic product manufacturing subset of which the SL-MTI employees are engaged. Greiner said the SL-MTI employees should have a high likelihood of matching their skills with those needed by employers seeking workers in the region.
SL-MTI announced the closing plans to workers on April 18. The plant produces high-precision, high-performance electric motors, drives and controllers for aerospace and commercial markets.
The closing was described as a business decision by the company in a statement announcing the plans. "It followed a comprehensive business review that considered cost structure and our competitive position in the marketplace, along with the ability to gradually shift our manufacturing to available manufacturing capacity at other MTI facilities,'' stated Evan Pondel, PondelWilkinson Inc., a public relations firm based in California.
MTI will provide help to the affected employees during the transition. It will provide severance packages, based on length of service, and will offer relocation and transfer opportunities to its Kenosha, Wisconsin, facility for some employees where openings exist, according to the statement.
MTI is headquartered in Kenosha. It is among companies owned by Steel Partners Holdings L.P., an international company.
Montevideo City Manager Steve Jones said the city has been reaching out to help workers as they transition to new jobs. He noted that many have been long-term employees, and many in the community understand the difficulty the loss of a job at this stage in their careers represents.
Jones said Montevideo's economy is strong and diverse, and he is hopeful that the affected employees can find continued employment close to home.
The city has also been attempting to contact the company to learn what plans the company has for the facility once operations cease.
The SL-MTI closing follows the 2017 closing of Logic PD in Montevideo, which employed 80 workers in electronics manufacturing. The former Logic PD facility has since been purchased by Protoduction Inc., and has a small workforce operating there, according to Angie Steinbach, assistant city manager and community development director in Montevideo.