Weir SPM closing

Published 8:42 pm Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Weir SPM on Old Bath Highway is closing, confirmed Washington Mayor Archie Jennings on Wednesday.
Jennings said the city learned of the closing Tuesday. That closing is expected to take place in March and affect about 60 workers. The closing is being blamed on downturns in the pressure-pumping markets, according to reports.
Last spring, the City Council approved agreements related to a $480,000 grant sought by Weir to improve its building to accommodate production of new high-pressure flow equipment for the oil and gas industry. Weir never followed through on obtaining the grant and making those improvements, Jennings said.
“We found out about it kind of through the grapevine,” City Manager Josh Kay said of the impending closing. “I called the plant manager and he informed me the corporate office made the decision and came in Monday night, early Tuesday morning.”
Kay confirmed Weir was awarded the grant but had not signed agreements related to the grant or received any money.
“We hate to lose any job, and certainly hate to lose a company like Weir who appeared poised to expand and move in a new direction,” Kay said. “We certainly understand business needs, and those decisions need to be made. It’s unfortunate, but we will work with those employees — (along) with the state agencies — to assist them in anyway possible.”
Attempts to contact Weir officials by telephone and email were not successful Wednesday.
The city was to provide a 5-percent ($20,500) contribution (match) for that project, which carried an overall cost of $999,977, according to the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, which was to have provided the $480,000.
That grant, which would have passed through the city to Weir, was expected to create 82 new jobs by the fall of this year.
According to information included in city documents last spring, Weir had a baseline employment of 66 workers then. The new jobs were expected to provide an annual salary of $41,000 per employee.
Neal Anderson, supervisor of the N.C. Division of Employment Security’s office in Washington, said it’s his understanding that Weir will help laid-off workers find other jobs, including jobs with other Weir entities. Weir is using a placement firm to find jobs outside the Weir family for local workers who lose their jobs, he said.
“We’ll be working with those folks to try to help place as many people as possible,” Anderson said Wednesday.
As far as how these layoffs will affect the area’s unemployment rate, which as been in double digits for at least three years, Anderson said he’s not sure because he has not yet done those calculations.
“When I get more information about what our plan is as far as the rapid-response group, I’ll let you know,” he said.
A DES rapid-response team provides assistance to laid-off workers.
“Rapid response is the initial meeting with employers to share information on available transition services for workers that have lost their jobs as a result of a layoff or facility closure,” reads the DES website.
Setting up a rapid-response team begins the process of providing a variety of re-employment services that may include employment registration, supportive services, job-placement referrals and assistance, career counseling, case assessment and self-directed job-search services.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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