Iowa Town Being Threatened by Large Job Losses, Again
Fourteen years ago, a central Iowa town saw 3,000 jobs vanish. In 2021, the city is poised to lose almost a thousand jobs.
Thursday was not a good day for employees of TPI Composites in Newton. The company has been making wind blades for General Electric but told both workers and city leaders yesterday that they expect production to cease at the end of 2021. That is if they don't find a new product to make or a new customer for the wind blades they've been producing. If neither of those happens, almost 800 workers would be laid off.
WHO-TV reports that, following a meeting with the company Thursday afternoon, City Administrator Matt Muckler said,
It’s unfortunate that industry-specific issues may cause TPI to suspend production at their Newton facility at the end of December. TPI’s General Manager Josh Syhlman shared the news of this potential suspension of production with City officials Thursday afternoon. TPI’s workforce comes from all over the region so this would impact not only Newton but many communities throughout Central Iowa.
It's part two of a double-whammy of bad news when it comes to the production of wind power machinery in Newton. Arcosa Wind Towers had previously alerted Iowa Workforce Development that they would be laying off 82 workers on Tuesday, October 19. That's approximately 50 percent of the Newton employees of Arcosa, which is based in Dallas, Texas. The plant makes wind towers, according to WHO-TV.
Officials with the City of Newton say the job losses in the city are tied to the fact that steel prices have hit record highs and Congress hasn't extended a tax credit for wind energy production. Fortune reported this summer that steel prices had risen 215 percent since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020. The wind energy production tax credit is currently set to expire on December 31.
Newton lost those 3,000 jobs 14 years ago when Maytag left town. Let's hope, this time around, the job losses can be avoided. Admittedly, it doesn't look good at all.