An Oklahoma town is preparing for major job losses after Michelin said it would end production at a tire facility, affecting more than a thousand employees.
"The Ardmore Chamber of Commerce was stunned to learn the news of Michelin’s plan to begin winding down tire production at the Ardmore facility over the next two years," Ardmore Chamber of Commerce President and CEO William Murphy told FOX Business in a statement. "This plant has been an anchor not only in Ardmore but throughout southern Oklahoma’s economy, providing hundreds of well-paying jobs for more than 50 years."
The company said it would halt production because the Ardmore plant was "not equipped to deliver tires at competitive costs" due to shifting market needs, according to a press release. Michelin operates 34 production plants in the U.S. and Canada.
"Michelin has strived to be a good steward in every chapter for this plant and community. Winding down operations is the hardest of all business decisions," Terry Redmile, senior vice president of manufacturing for Michelin Group's Americas Zone, said in the press release. "The Company has carefully explored every other option before resolving this decision."
"In the months ahead, we’ll work through every stage of the transition with a deep sense of stewardship for the Ardmore community," Redmile said. "Our goal is to provide individual support for each person at the Ardmore site to start a new chapter in the best way possible. This also includes starting conversations with local and state-level leaders to determine the best ways to lend support for this community even after the transition."
The first round of layoffs are expected to start mid-2024, according to Michelin's press release. But Murphy, who is also the CEO of the Ardmore Development Authority, said the city is creating a task force to help the 1,400 impacted employees find other jobs.
"We have established a Michelin Transition Task Force to begin identifying opportunities currently available within the region, prospective companies that may be interested in coming to the region now that we will have an influx of well-trained workers, and additional training or education to help with transitions to other jobs," Murphy said.
A slew of elected officials weighed in on the closure, including Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, Rep. Tom Cole, state Sen. Jerry Alvord and state Rep. Tammy Townley. Alvord, whose district includes Ardmore, called the job loss "distressing."
"The abruptness of this decision has caught us all off guard, including those in the industry," Alvord said in a statement. "This decision will undoubtedly have a significant economic impact on our community, and the loss of jobs is deeply distressing."
"Our thoughts are with the hardworking employees and their families who will be affected by this unfortunate development," he added.
Murphy told FOX Business the city is unsure how many impacted employees will want help finding a new job in the region.
"We are still working with the company to determine how many employees will choose to relocate, how many will retire, and how many will stay and seek new employment," Murphy said. "As we move forward, the City of Ardmore is incredibly fortunate to have leadership from the city as well as state and federal officials, tribal and education partners, and the private sector all working together diligently to move our community forward."