FORREST CITY, AR-- Sanyo Manufacturing Corporation announced Tuesday they will end production at their plant in Forrest City.
Sanyo has made cathode ray televisions at its Forrest City plant since 1977. At its peak the plant employed over 750 people. However as more Americans move towards high definition LCD and plasma televisions, the demand for the old style has dropped dramatically. That decline ultimately means a decline in jobs right here in Region 8.
"It's almost like you are losing a family member. You know it is possibly terminal, but you are waiting for a miracle," said Forrest City Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Dunn.
Dunn says the writing was on the wall a few years ago. Despite their efforts to convince Sanyo to begin building LCD and plasma televisions in Forrest City, the plant slowly started phasing out employees earlier this year.
"It's a business decision. It's all about the bottom line and the bottom line is can they produce here or can they produce somewhere at a lower cost," said Dunn.
Production is slated to end in October; however one employee we talked to said he feared layoffs could start in the next month. Earlier this year the plant cut 300 jobs. This time around they will cut around 175, a major blow to an already struggling economy.
"There's not been a lot of opportunity. Right now, I believe half of our households, a little over half in St. Francis County make less than $15,500 a year," said Dunn.
Because of the close proximity to Interstate 40, warehousing and distribution facilities for Sanyo will stay in Forrest City. In addition, engineering, sales and customer service will also remain at the plant. All in all, around 75 employees will remain in Forrest City.
"Who knows that in the future there may not be a product they feel is manufactureable, if that is the word, in this area that could bring another 1000 jobs," said Dunn.
Even though the plant itself is in Forrest City, Dunn feels it will have a trickle down effect on the region.
"It is very apparent that we can no longer look at Wynne versus Forrest City, or Forrest City versus West Memphis or Brinkley versus Marianna. We have to develop ourselves regionally," said Dunn.
We contacted Sanyo and they declined our interview requests; however they do say salaried workers will have a severance package and hourly workers are eligible for job training through the governors program for dislocated workers.