LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - GE Oil & Gas issued a statement on Monday that the company plans to shut down its Lufkin foundry division. The decision to shutter the historic foundry will result in the loss of 176 jobs.
"As a result of increasingly challenging market conditions, we have made the decision to close the Foundry and reduce positions at Buck Creek," Laura Bauer, a spokesman for GE Oil & Gas said in a statement. "In total, 262 positions will be eliminated across both sites in Angelina County. This was a tough decision to make, but one we must make for the long-term health of the business."
Bauer said the company's decision is not a "reflection of the commitment and hard work of our employees who have worked with dedication and professionalism."
"It's going to take a livelihood away from a family, over 260 of them, so not only is it an impact to the city of Lufkin's economy, it's an impact on a personal level," said Keith Wright, Lufkin City Manager.
Just last year November, GE announced a $60 million upgrade known as 'Project Phoenix' that was set to overhaul several pieces of outdated equipment at the foundry, but those plans were shelved.
"The market took a turn. That's the first time it went down per barrel of oil, West Texas crude went down below $45, which shut the project down," Wright said.
GE Oil & Gas will be providing its employees with resources that will help them switch to other employment opportunities within GE Oil & Gas or an outside company.
"While our footprint in Angelina County is changing, we are committed to being a strong business and community partner," Bauer said.
City and County officials feel now is the time to work together to put those employees back to work.
"I think it's very important that we let that GE management know that Angelina County, the City of Lufkin and this community will do what it takes to retain as many jobs as we can and not have any future reduction," said Wes Suitor, Angelina County Judge.
Bauer said employees at the foundry, which was one part of Lufkin Industries, will be able to continue working through September.