BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Siemens-Gamesa officials confirmed Monday morning that approximately 130 employees have been laid off.
A spokesperson for the company confirmed the announcement and said the decision didn’t come lightly.
“On September 14, Siemens Gamesa notified employees at its Iowa wind turbine blade manufacturing facility that we are reducing the workforce by approximately 130. We do not take this decision lightly, but we must adapt to the demands of the market and meet our customers’ needs in an ever-changing environment,” the spokesperson said in an email to the Pen City Current.
“We appreciate the professionalism and dedication of our valued employees, and we will assist them during this time of transition.”
Lee County Economic Development President Dennis Fraise said, even the light of the announced closing of Bagcraft next month, there are still plenty of good paying jobs in Lee County.
“This is always a difficult circumstance,” Fraise said.
“The only silver lining as that there are still a lot of available positions. We will be working with Siemens and Iowa Workforce Development to help those people transition. Hopefully we can find them employment in Lee County as that’s always our goal.”
Fraise, who spoke Tony McDowell, the plant manager in Fort Madison Monday, said he believed the reduction in workforce was due to the elimination of specific shorter blade production line.
“Their right-sizing their workforce based on the end of that product line,” Fraise said.
McDowell was unable to be reached for comment Monday morning.
Siemens furloughed about 100 people in April due to supply chain issues.
The announcement comes on the heels of the announcement of a closure of the Bagcraft Packaging’s Fort Madison facility on Oct. 22. That closure leaves 104 employees without jobs in Lee County.
Fraise said he doesn’t think there is a concern with the manufacturing base in Lee County.
“These two are very divergent industries. One was a result of fast food and some consolidations there,. But the wind turbine industry has always been volatile with federal tax credits involved,” Fraise said.
“It can be a roller coaster if you will. But what we are hearing from other industries here is that things are very solid.”
According to the Monday release, Siemens Gamesa remains firmly committed to the long-term viability of the U.S. wind market and continues to have a strong presence in manufacturing, maintenance, R&D, sales and other functions. We’ve installed more than 10,500 wind turbines in the U.S., which provide nearly 22 GWs of clean power, enough for over 6.5 million homes.