Latest casualty of job losses: plant that makes work boots

Here's a ripple effect from the recession: The loss of blue-collar jobs across the country has led to the closing of a Kentucky plant that makes work boots.

Red Wing Shoe Co. announced Thursday that the plant which employs 206 people will close as part of a restructuring. The company will also eliminate the second shift of a plant in Red Wing, Minn., the company's home base.

Red Wing has operated the Danville factory since 1994. Production will shift from the Danville plant to a factory in Potosi, Mo., and the plant in Red Wing. Company spokesman Peter Engel said there will be a series of layoffs in Danville until final closure in June.

Red Wing President Dave Murphy said in a press release that the company's plants have been operating at "less than ideal efficiency through reduced work weeks and occasional shut downs."

"We were optimistic that the economy would recover sooner than later, however the continued record unemployment in the blue collar segment, which is our core consumer base, shows no sign of a quick recovery," Murphy said.

Jody Lassiter, president and CEO of the Danville/Boyle County Economic Development Partnership, said he was "surprised and disappointed" by Red Wing's "unexpected decision."

"The local community was not given any preliminary notice of the company's intent to close or that there were issues relative to capacity or their operations in Danville," Lassiter said. "The abruptness of the decision makes it very obvious to us that there is not an opportunity — as we do with many projects — to offer incentives, assistance to keep the facility open in Danville."

Engel said Red Wing's other two plants were in a better position to expand when the economy improves.


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