January 5, 2007--Posted at 5:45 p.m. CST
WYNNE, AR--About 175 people will soon be looking for work after the Addison Shoe Company announced plans to close a factory there.
The plant manufactures shoes for the military and private labels. It's been a landmark in Cross County, but not for much longer.
The Addison Shoe Company opened its factory in the City with a Smile in 1958 and was one of the first major employers in Cross County.
The plant is owned by Munro & Co. They say government contracts have been more difficult to come by and that's putting a crunch on the plant.
"Just not enough business, not enough orders, even with the 174 people that are left," said Addison employee Janette McJunkins.
McJunkins has worked at the Addison Shoe Company for 26 years. The announcement of the plant's closure is hitting hard for McJunkins and the 173 employees who will soon be out of work.
"I have been here so long, it is like family," said McJunkins.
The plant has been a fixture in Wynne since 1958 and at its peak Addison employed 570 people. That number has dwindled to 174, but the relationship between the company and its employees has remained strong.
"They don't just come and go. They come there and they stay there. They are loyal employees and Munro has been very good to them," said Leroy Dangeau of the Cross County Chamber of Commerce.
"With me, the more years I put in, it just becomes part of my life," said McJunkins.
"Out of that 174, 68 of them have between have from 20 to 45 years experience. To me, that speaks well of Munro & Co.," said Dangeau.
On March 5th the Addison Shoe Company will close their doors for the last time and employees will empty the parking lot. However, the company isn't just cutting and running. They plan on making a conscious effort to make sure their employees have future jobs in a familiar place.
"Munro & Co. is working very hard to try to find a buyer for this plant and hopefully employ a lot of these employees if not all of these employees," said Dangeau.
The company plans to work with the Arkansas Division of Workforce Development to assist employees with training and new job placement, however for workers like McJunkins it will never be the same again.
"I thought about it, but it is hard to even imagine starting all over again somewhere else after 26 years," said Dangeau.