Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A very sad day for Kenosha

The new owner of G. LeBlanc will put the final nails in the coffin of its Kenosha manufacturing facility next year. 100 people will lose their jobs when Conn-Semler moves the remaining band instrument production to Indiana.

Despite promises to the contrary, Conn-Semler had been downgrading the Kenosha operation since it bought it in 2004.

It itself the loss of 100 jobs -- especially with the news coming at this time of the year -- is depressing enough.

But the loss is more than just jobs. It's the progressive erosion of Kenosha's identity.

Despite Kenosha's fortunate ability to morph itself into a bedroom suburb, the bedrock of this community was its manufacturing workforce.

The biggest, and most noticeable loss, of course, was American Motors cars. It's been nearly 20 years since an automobile rolled off an assembly line in Kenosha. Yes, Chrysler still makes engines here, but it isn't the same.

That goes for Jockey and Snap-On, too. Both international companies are headquartered here but it's been many long years since Jockey made any clothing In Kenosha and Snap-On shut down its manufacturing here about four years ago.

MacWhyte wire rope is gone. Ditto for Dynamatic. And let's not forget Peter Pirsch, once the "Cadillac of fire engines." Or Simmons. Or Frost. Or American Brass. There are others.

All of these companies provided good jobs for Kenoshans who in turn built good homes and good schools. They quite literally helped build the foundation of this community.

They also gave our community a sense of pride. An AMC worker could be anywhere in the country and point at a Rambler with a smile and say, "I helped make that."

But no more -- and our community is not necessarily the better for this.

While we mourn another loss, let's also not forget that this didn't happen overnight. Our political leaders -- especially at the state level -- simply didn't do enough at times to keep jobs here. They still don't do enough to grow new job opportunities. They'd rather bicker and backstab than work for the best interests of Wisconsin.

Miss Forward must be sobbing.

1 comment:

Dad29 said...

It's Federal, too.

US manufacturers are forced to give away about 40-50% advantage to other countries (especially PRChina) in comparing export subsidies, artificial-pricing of currencies, health/safety/retirement regs...

And enviro.