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Manitowoc to lay off 450

February 24, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

SHADY GROVE, Pa. - Industry experts say the effects of the recession are starting to be fully felt in Franklin County -- a point further emphasized by Manitowoc Crane Group's announcement it will lay off 450 employees at its Shady Grove plant.

Dennis Rooney, vice president of human resources for Manitowoc, said individuals whose employment will be terminated will find out Friday, which will be their last day. The entire staff learned Monday that 430 production and 20 salaried line management employees will be let go.

"The general word is out there," Rooney said.

The market for mobile cranes has worsened even since the mid-January announcement of 315 job cuts at the one-time Grove Manufacturing, Rooney said.

"What's taking place there is reflective of a very stagnant global economy," said Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross.

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Manitowoc had a record year in 2008 and was optimistic about 2009 until the global credit crunch in the third quarter of last year, he said.

Manitowoc is Franklin County's third-largest employer behind Letterkenny Army Depot and Summit Health. By reducing its work force to 1,400, it will now employ 300 people more than the fourth-largest employer, Chambersburg Area School District.

Franklin County's historically low unemployment rate will continue to take a serious hit from layoffs at Manitowoc and other manufacturing leaders, according to Ryan Horner, an analyst with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

"They're taking their lumps like a lot of other areas in a recession," Horner said, noting that Franklin County manufacturing was holding its own against state and national trends.

"To have to let that many people go (at Manitowoc) is unfortunate, but it's necessary due to the state of the global economy. The impact won't be severe, but it will be felt," said Bill Gour, executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce.

"This is the second major layoff at Manitowoc, and there's a trickle-down impact from that which doesn't get publicized," Ross said.

Component manufacturers and suppliers, some in this region, are beginning to do the same thing at their companies on a smaller scale, he said.

"All we can hope for now is that the infrastructure component of the federal stimulus package will have an impact," Ross said. "Contractors will need cranes, lifts and pavers" like the ones built by Manitowoc, JLG Industries and Volvo Heavy Equipment, to build the roads, bridges and other projects in the package, he said.

"Even wishfully thinking, we don't think we'll feel the effect of (the stimulus projects) until 2010," Rooney said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry will be scheduling a "rapid response" meeting for those who lost jobs at Manitowoc, department spokesman Justin Fleming said.

"We talk to the displaced workers about the services our PA CareerLink office provides and unemployment compensation," he said.

Rooney said the employees will be eligible for unemployment, but they will not receive severance packages. They would be given special consideration upon applying for jobs if the company starts hiring again in the future.

Staff writer Don Aines contributed to this story.

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