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The Times
  • Local manufacturing jobs cut in half since 1990

  • No local community has escaped the effect of industrial flight.

    It affects larger cities such as Utica — where Hyosung closed and laid off 85 people in 2011 — and small ones such as Oneida — where Smith-Lee was shuttered in 2009 and 70 people lost their jobs.

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  • No local community has escaped the effect of industrial flight.
    It affects larger cities such as Utica — where Hyosung closed and laid off 85 people in 2011 — and small ones such as Oneida — where Smith-Lee was shuttered in 2009 and 70 people lost their jobs.
    And it’s been going on for decades, as the builders of things, who originally were focused around Northeast train routes and waterways, fled for more favorable conditions to the south and overseas.
    “You saw it in the mid to late 1990s, with so many other states enticing companies south for lower land costs, lower taxes, lower energy, different work force issues,” said Anthony Picente, Oneida County executive who worked at that time as a state economic development official.
    Manufacturing numbers have been cut in half in Oneida and Herkimer counties over the last two decades — from 22,600 jobs in 1990 to 11,000 last year.
    And if the situation in Whitestown — where Daimler Buses North America recently announced it would cease manufacturing Orion buses — is any indication, it won’t stop anytime soon. The Orion plant has roughly 480 employees, but a corporate spokeswoman said they don’t yet know how many will be laid off.
    So, while Orion joins the long line of manufacturing companies out the door, experts and business owners say the cumulative effect of these business closures and cutbacks has a deep impact to the people who lose their jobs and the businesses they patronize.
    “There’s a major ripple effect both economically and psychologically,” said David Kiner, executive director of the Business and Finance Department at Utica College. “It has an impact on your kids, on the local diner, on your self-worth.”
    At Chanatry’s, a locally owned supermarket based in Utica, the effect of manufacturing job losses isn’t felt immediately, owner Bill Chanatry said.
    But over the years, there’s a noticeable decrease in spending power, he said.
    “Whether they’re buying groceries or lumber, they’re going to cut back,” he said. “This Mohawk Valley’s been getting slam-banged year in and year out.”
    In 2010, Covidien in Oriskany Falls announced it would begin layoffs of all its personnel through 2011. That meant 198 employees out of work — about one-third of the village’s total population.
    “It hurt all the local businesses, of course,” said Badal Singh, owner of Falls Village Market in Oriskany Falls. “Some people, they went to school, or they just don’t work anymore.”
    The bad news is that only 11,000 manufacturing jobs are left.
    The good news is that 11,000 jobs remain.
    And those include traditional local heavyweights that employ hundreds such as Remington Arms in Ilion and newly popular companies such as Chobani Greek Yogurt in Chenango County — which is outside the area counted by state Labor statistics but still considered an important part of the local economy.
    Page 2 of 2 - Economic development officials managed recently to strike a deal keeping Indium Corp. local, and hopes are high that the nanotechnology initiative at SUNYIT leads to high-paying jobs and spinoff companies.
    But despite the various stalwart companies and ambitious developments, the numbers fall ever downward. And the cycle can perpetuate itself.
    “Psychologically and physically it can be very damaging for people,” said UC’s Kiner. “It sort of becomes part of our mantra. Depression creates more depression.”

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