CAMERON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Earlier this year, Detroit-based American Axle and Manufacturing purchased the Cameron county manufacturing plant GKN.
Now, just months after after the sale, the global company announced it is closing down shop in Emporium within the next 12-18 months. A move which will put hundreds of jobs at risk. The announcement came as a complete shock to everyone in Cameron County, as there was no indication the move was coming.
The plant, built in the 1970s, was first home to Pennsylvania Press Metals. Ownership has changed multiple times throughout the years, and most recently, it was sold to Detroit-based American Axle and Manufacturing earlier this year.
The plant has always been a constant for manufacturing jobs, and it currently employs more than 300 people. Cameron County Commissioner Ann Losey said news of the the closure was a massive blow to many.
“There’s a lot of lifers in the plant. There’s a lot of people that have spent their whole career, right out of high school, and have stayed there the whole time. So that’s a blow to the system,” Losey said.
With a population of just over 4,500 across the county, the closure not only puts a large percentage of the population at risk of losing their jobs, it also affects surrounding businesses in the area.
“A lot of businesses here in the county that finish the products that come out of American axle, formerly GKN,” Tina Solak, the executive directo of the Cameron County Chamber of Commerce said. “So it’s not just that plant. It’s also what effect is it going to have on those secondary shops and also their workers at those shops.”
County Commissioners said that some employees told them they have been offered positions in surrounding plants, including Ridgway and St. Marys. WTAJ has reached out to representatives from AAM for comment, but have not heard back yet.
For some of these employees, that commute may not be an option, as many of those older employees may look to other options.
“The majority of them, they’re skilled, they will be okay. But there are a majority that are going to struggle,” said Lori Reed, a Cameron County Commissioner.
Officials now begin a search for a new business to move into the space. Joining in the efforts, the governors action team, and senators from across the region. Among them, 25th district Senator Cris Dush, who said he is trying to find a company that would be able to move into that space and save these jobs.
“I’m reaching out to some of the businesses that I know that have been looking at the possibility of expanding, and hopefully be able to have those guys turn their eyes towards Emporium and getting that plant to continue operation with these good paying jobs,” Dush said.
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