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Meridian Yachts to close Arlington facility
ARLINGTON — After the Brunswick Corporation announced Oct. 9 that the U.S. Marine/Meridian boat manufacturing facility in Arlington will close by the end of this year, Mayor Margaret Larson went straight to the company’s HR department.
She went there with the good news that other manufacturing companies are hiring, according to Vic Ericson, the city’s economic development manager.
“Obviously, it’s a negative for the city to lose a major employer,” Ericson said.
“But it wasn’t a huge surprise, with the recent furlough and discussions during the past year.” The Arlington plant was shut down for a month furlough in August to help the company get back on track.
Nearly 800 people will lose their jobs over the next few months.
“The company will be meeting with employees individually this week to talk about their specific situations,” said Kerry Munnich, executive assistant to Steve Wolpert, the vice president of Brunswick Global Boat operations.
“The HR department will help them write resumes and find new jobs,” she added.
The director of media relations and corporate communications for Brunswick Corporation, Dan Kubera said there will be a continued presence in Arlington.
“But we don’t yet know what that will look like,” he said.
Closure of the plant, headquarters and product development departments will follow individual schedules, Kubera said.
“They will all be phased out by end of the year,” he said.
An active member of the community, Munnich admits it will be a huge impact.
Ericson noted the boat business is all about discretionary income.
“We’ve known for a while that they were struggling. We are sad, but hopeful,” said Ericson. At a recent gathering of other major companies in Arlington, there was some good news.
“Stella Jones reported a record year and Bowman Manufacturing announced they are currently hiring at several levels, from production to marketing.”
Ericson also mentioned Silicon Energy, a producer of solar energy equipment that is preparing to crank up production early next year.
The Arlington U.S. Marine/Meridian plant is one of four plants closing across the country,. Those in Navassa N.C. and Roseburg, Ore., will also shutdown by the end of 2008. The Pipestone, Minn. shutdown will be completed during the first quarter of 2009, according to headquarters.
Arlington’s Meridian production will merge with a plant in Knoxville, Tenn.
This is an acceleration of its previously announced efforts to resize the company to remove $300 million in fixed costs by the end of 2009.
“The company is taking the action in light of extraordinary developments in the global financial markets that are affecting the recreational marine industry.
We are living and working in the most turbulent economic times in recent history,” said Brunswick Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dustan E. McCoy.
“The poor economy and the accompanying weak consumer sentiment have eroded the demand for boats and engines these past few months at a swifter pace than originally anticipated,” McCoy noted.
U.S. Representative Rick Larsen also committed his assistance to the workers.
“I have asked my staff to do everything we can to help Meridian workers find new jobs and help their families get through this difficult time,” Larsen said.
“My office is looking into ways we can be of assistance to our Workforce Development Councils in Snohomish and Skagit County, and to the community as a whole. The loss of Meridian Yachts is sad news not only for Meridian workers and their families, but for our entire community.”
City reviews budget
In light of the economy, the city of Arlington has some tough choices to make on its 2009 budget. They reviewed the first draft of the budget at the Oct. 13 workshop.
“This is the worst revenue picture in the last ten years,” said City Administrator Allen Johnson.
“Sales tax is one of our major revenue sources and accounts for 31 percent of the city’s general fund budget.”
He said that Arlington’s portion of the state sales tax had been steadily increasing since 1999.
However, due to the slow-down in construction and the economy in general, 2008 revenue is projected to be $475,000 less than the 2007 actual.
“Real estate excise taxes have decreased by 50 percent in 2008,” Johnson said.
The 2009 projections include sales tax on a new wastewater treatment plan, airport office expansion and the new hospital.
“These revenues fund major capital improvements,” he added.
Arlington has used these revenues to repay debt for the North Olympic Avenue project and the new police station as well as parks projects.