State, Ardmore leaders grapple with news of Michelin winding down operations in Oklahoma
Following the news that Michelin plans to wind down operations at its Ardmore plant, city leaders are going before the Oklahoma Senate.
Ardmore administrators will speak to an Oklahoma State Senate hearing on Tuesdayabout the economic challenges the closing presents.
The Senate Select Committee on Business Retention and Economic Development will hold the hearing to discuss what can be done to keep other businesses in the state.
"The purpose of this committee in part is to look at all aspects of business and commerce in Oklahoma," Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat said in a statement. "We must examine everything, including our shortcomings especially when we lose major employers."
Michelin plans to close the Ardmore plant by 2025 costing approximately 1,400 workers their jobs. The Ardmore tire factory has been a major employer in the region for decades, opening its doors in 1970.
Michelin says in a news release that the Ardmore plant isn’t equipped to evolve with market demands for tires. The company will be moving production to other passenger-tire plants across the continent.
“Michelin has strived to be a good steward in every chapter for this plant and community. Winding down operations is the hardest of all business decisions,” Terry Redmile, senior vice president of manufacturing for Michelin Group’s Americas Zone, said in a statement from the company.
Ardmore Development Authority President and CEO Bill Murphy told the Ardmoreite newspaper that there's a possibility for future new job opportunities in the market, but he said no sole employer will be able to replace all the workers that are being laid off. Some projects are still years away from being operational.
“We all knew there is always a risk when you have got those large employers that something like this could happen,” Murphy told the newspaper. “But again, with everything we were seeing, with the investments that we heard from them, that they were making. All of that, it just was more of a surprise than I think many people were prepared for.”
Local and state leaders have already offered support.
"Ardmore is [a] great location with a great workforce, and I have no doubt we will attract more businesses," Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a news release. "I know Oklahomans will do what we always do – lend a hand to their neighbor as these folks transition to the next chapter."
Murray State College — which is based in Tishomingo but has a presence at Ardmore's University Center of Southern Oklahoma — has also offered to help workers make transitions to other fields. The school has said it will offer scholarship money specifically to workers who've lost employment.
In the next six months, Michelin will start to slowly phase out employees at the plant.