Leaders Aim For ‘Seamless’ Transition

March 9th, 2016

News Coverage:

March 7, 2016

Leaders Aim For 'Seamless' Transition

Dan McGowan


Fort Wayne-based Northeast Indiana Works is hosting regional stakeholders Monday to examine next steps for the 700 employees of Huntington-based United Technologies Electronic Controls Inc. expected to lose their jobs. Director of Communications Rick Farrant says the organization, which oversees 11 WorkOne Indiana offices, is positioning itself to be the "single point of contact" for affected workers. The meeting includes educational, economic development and governmental representatives at the local, state and national levels.

UTEC currently has its headquarters and engineering center is in Huntington. Its parent company, Connecticut-based UTEC parent United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) is shipping manufacturing operations in Huntington and its Carrier Corp. facility in Indianapolis to Mexico.

The meeting is taking place Monday on the Huntington University campus. Between Huntington and UTC's planned cuts at its Carrier Corp. subsidiary in Indianapolis, 2,100 Hoosiers are expected to be out of work in the coming years. Last week, the company confirmed to Governor Mike Pence in a Statehouse meeting that 400 workers will remain in Indiana between the two operations.

Because the layoffs aren't set to begin until next year, Farrant says at this point, "it would probably be premature" to roll out the regional resources that are typically deployed following a major cut. "Largely because the workers are still there and UTEC needs to continue production," Farrant says "and as we understand it the workers have been given a rather attractive incentive package that includes items that would keep them at the plant at least until the displacement."

He says it's important to work with the company and regional stakeholders to provide a "pathway" for workers to consider re-employment, education and skills training efforts.

Ultimately, he says the goal is to keep as many of the workers displaced by the move within the region as possible. "We think the prospects of doing that are good, given the commitment of the region to work collaboratively on strategy and the fact that the region has many unfilled jobs right now in the manufacturing sector," a trend he says is likely to continue through 2017 when the cutbacks are set to hit.

Northeast Indiana Works Director of Communications Rick Farrant tells Inside INdiana Business a highly-coordinated response is key.