While Butler County has lost nearly 1,300 jobs in the first six months of 2011 and an additional 400 impending job losses are expected to occur in West Chester Township by the fall, there is still confidence among the trustees and the township administrator that the community will continue to thrive.
“While the economy has crashed and the state of Ohio has lost between 400,000 to 600,000 jobs … in the two recent recessions that we have went through, in West Chester we have added $2.2 billion in new commercial construction, $24 million square feet of new commercial property and over 26,000 jobs,” West Chester Trustee George Lang said referring to the two recessions experienced this decade.
In May of 2011, however, two local businesses, BAE Systems and CEVA Logistics US Inc., announced plans to slash another 400 jobs this fall.
For BAE, which employed roughly 1,800 workers at the start of 2010, the latest cuts could drop its total workforce to 430 people. Meanwhile, CEVA Logistics is closing its local operations after Dell Computers decided to eliminate its 194 positions from the West Chester facility and transfer it to a new location.
In addition to that, Lakota Local Schools has recently eliminated 78 positions for the 2011-2012 school year and Liz Clairborne officials announced in June that it was going to close its West Chester based distribution center, which employs roughly 400 workers, in 2012.
“Many people want to focus on the job losses and rightfully so because it does significantly impact peoples’ lives,” West Chester Township Administrator Judith Boyko said. “However, I think that it is important to remember that we are in the fourth year of an economic downturn, yet the majority of West Chester businesses have sustained their operations amidst this volatile economy.”
Boyko also pointed out that, while the loss of a job is significant for the families involved, the actual number of job losses is small compared to the approximately 50,000 jobs in West Chester.
“If you just look at the last month and a half, there were two announcements – BAE and CEVA – Liz Clairborne, of course, made an announcement, but their changes, if at all implemented, won’t occur until 2012,” Boyko said. “So, if you only look at those two announcements, we are talking about 350 jobs out of the 50,000 that West Chester businesses, corporations, operations, currently employ.”
Meanwhile, West Chester trustee Lee Wong is concerned about the recent job losses and gives the state government “an ‘F’ in economic development.”
“In the past 30 days, West Chester has lost about 1,000 jobs. A husband, a wife and children – that is more than 3,000 people affected,” Wong said at the last trustee meeting referring to the recent announcements of impending job losses in West Chester.
“I don’t think our state representative, our governor are aggressive in economic development for this area. Butler County, recently, has become No. 1 in job loss in the region … our state legislature needs to be proactive in bringing jobs to our state.”