JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Jeffboat has officially announced that its plant in Jeffersonville will shut down.
The barge maker issued the announcement on Monday morning. Workers at the company told WDRB on Friday that the company would shut down. The Jeffboat union also issued a statement about the closure over the weekend.
Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said he expects it will take months to figure out what could be next for the 65-acre property.
"I did make the offer," Moore said. "If the company would like to make a nice donation and get a tax benefit, the city of Jeff would be very interested. There's all kinds of things we could do with that property."
According to a press release from Jeffboat, workers will finish building the final barge by May 1. Then after that, the company will consider what will be best to do with the property. Moore said he has already gotten phone calls from realtors and developers asking about the land.
"That's kind of putting the cart before the horse," Moore said. "Jeffboat owns it. We'll see what their plan is. I would love the city to be able to provide more green space, more residential housing, more retail. Who knows. Let the dreaming begin!"
For those losing their jobs when Jeffboat closes, Moore said he is working on providing more job opportunities for them to stay in Jeff. Moore met with a large company a couple weeks ago. He said one of the company's requirements for relocating to a new city is an available workforce of Class-A welders.
"One of my sales pitches to this new company, who I'm hoping will come into Jeffersonville, was I have a workforce here ready to go," Moore.said
The announcement of the Jeffboat's closure comes after last month's news about hundreds of layoffs.
One Southern Indiana President and CEO Wendy Dant Chesser issued the following statement regarding Jeffboat's closure:
“We are saddened to learn that Jeffboat will be closing in the next three to six weeks, due to the significant drop in demand for barge construction over the last three years.
The announcement to close Jeffboat will affect up to 170 employees and their families. One Southern Indiana (1si) stands ready to assist in any transition plan to help the effected employees identify other sustainable work opportunities in our region.
This could likely involve displacement services for the employees or retraining opportunities through partner organizations like Work One and Ivy Tech. 1si will also reach out to local vendors and suppliers that may suffer negative effects of this decision. Since the two Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications (WARN) notices, submitted in November 2017, and February 2018, 1si has had several companies from throughout the metro area inquire about hiring any displaced employees.
As the state recognized local economic development organization (LEDO) for Clark and Floyd counties, 1si engages in economic development on behalf of the community because it builds healthy economies throughout the region that support a stronger community at large. The attraction of new companies to Southern Indiana not only helps lessen the impact of a specific business or industry closing its doors but also ensures there will always be a high demand for skilled laborers, now and in the future.
We implore the officials of Jeffboat to consider the community, its needs and the future of regional business and talent attraction and retention, when creating a transition plan for the 80-acre property with one mile of river front currently occupied by the shipyard."
The company operated in Jeffersonville for 80 years, while it's full history stretches back 180 years. While in Jeffersonville, workers built close to 13,000 vessels.
The company says the closure is due to a drop in demand for barge construction. Jeffboat once boasted it was the largest inland shipyard in the country. Workers have built steamboats, barges, casino boats and LSTs for the U.S. Navy.
The company was especially busy during World War II. Read Jeffboat's full statement regarding the closure below:
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