Sunday, October 07, 2001

Evendale: Layoffs to hurt, but no KO

Village faces new round of GE cutbacks

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        EVENDALE — This village of 3,100 residents suffered a body blow last week when GE Aircraft Engines announced it is laying off 800 employees, at least half of them from the company's facilities in Evendale.

        The layoffs will hurt Evendale, village officials predict, but they won't knock it to the canvas.

        This round is smaller than the layoffs in the early 1990s, and the village is in a better position to absorb such blows.

        The GE work force at Evendale plummeted from 18,000 in 1990 to 8,000 in 1995.

        GE's Evendale employees number 6,500 today.

        Since 1995 two industrial parks — Evendale Commerce Park and Evendale Enterprise Park — have opened and are nearly full, many with businesses employing 50 to 150 employees.

        “The community has worked hard to diversify its economy and to encourage other companies to come here,” said Bill Covell, assistant to the mayor.

        Evendale also is bolstered by larger companies such as Formica Corp. and Gold Medal Products Co., which manufactures snack foods.

        Formica employs 700 and Gold Medal employs 266.

        Village officials say it's too early to know what impact the layoffs will have on it.

        GE's business may improve before the end of the year and reduce the need for so many layoffs, said Mayor John Ranz.

        How much the layoffs will hurt also depends on how many older, higher-salaried employees lose their jobs, he said.

        “It isn't necessarily the number of jobs,” he said. “It's how much the payroll will be reduced.”

        GE's income tax paid to the village accounts for about half of Evendale's $7.5 million in annual income tax revenue.

        The village's total annual revenue is $9 million.

        Mr. Covell said he doesn't expect the layoffs to cause any village employees to lose their jobs.

        Earlier this year, Evendale, which has no debt, had prepared for leaner times. Because of the national economic slowdown, village officials had projected a 14 percent drop in revenue next year.

        “The events of Sept. 11 speeded that up,” Mr. Covell said.

        Evendale officials will watch and wait to see what unfolds in the next two or three months.

        “The village is financially sound enough that we should be able to weather this initial hit,” Mr. Ranz said.

        “But the the cutbacks expand beyond this, it may be another story.”


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