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Manufacturer announces plans to close Northeast Kingdom plant - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Manufacturer announces plans to close Northeast Kingdom plant

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LYNDONVILLE, Vt. -

It's been an economic engine on Main Street in Lyndonville for decades, but that will soon come to a stop.

"Well, I think it is going to be a big blow to the area and there's a lot of people that work there that have been there for many, many years," said Mike O'Neill of Sheffield.

"A lot of them have been there for a long time and it's too bad. I feel sorry for them," said Mark Francis of Sheffield.

WCAX News has learned the Kennametal plant plans to shut down this spring, killing roughly 80 of the region's highest-paying jobs in the process.

"There's not that much around here and the machine shops that are here are, I think, as far as employees are concerned are operating at full capacity," O'Neill said.

In a statement, the metal manufacturing company says in part, "This decision is directly related to our marketplace and changing requirements to serve our customers competitively."

Efforts by the state failed to keep the company from calling it quits.

"We've been working with Kennametal for a while to do everything we can to keep them growing in Vermont," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

"A lot of them are my age, maybe a little more, maybe a little less, but when you get up to be our age it is really hard to find another job," Francis said.

Vt. Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan says her team is working to help the Kennametal employees find new jobs, and says their manufacturing skills could be a plus in the process.

"We know that's an area where we on a regular basis are asked by other employers to help them recruit, so we are very confident that we will be able to get the Kennametal employees back to work," Noonan said.

And Governor Shumlin hopes ongoing job creation in the Northeast Kingdom through the EB-5 development program at places like Jay Peak could help soften the negative impact on the region.

"We're involved in one of the initiatives that I believe is likely to grow more jobs in the Northeast Kingdom, where we are losing Kennametal, than any initiative in the recent memory," Shumlin said.

Bur right now, that's little relief for folks who live and work in town who learned this week that in addition to the bad news at Kennametal, nine jobs are getting axed at the nearby Vermont Flexible Tubing Company, as it plans to shut down as well.

"Nothing has been good all year," Francis said. "It seems like it is getting worse."

"I have no idea what they've got planned, but I wish them the best of luck," O'Neill said.

Noonan says some of Kennametal's employees in Vermont may have opportunities to work at remaining facilities elsewhere in the country. The company says it plans to shut down in Vermont by the end of June.

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