BAE Systems has announced it is shutting down its Grainger County body armor facility, effective as of Friday. That closure will affect 173 full-time and temporary workers.
"Today is an extremely hard day. Today is a day that is sad for our employees, it's a sad day for management here, it's a sad day for the community," Bryan Stiles, the plant's manager said.
Many of the employees from the Grainger County facility will be offered a job at the Jefferson City plant. Those who do not want the transfer are offered guidance by the company as they look for new jobs.
The plant made tactical vests for the United States military.
"The employees are very proud of the work they've done here and they know they've contributed to the safety of the soldiers," Stiles said.
Stiles said they will do inventory at the facility and then assess how to close the building permanently.
"In 2007, the community of Grainger County welcomed BAE Systems to the 'neighborhood.' And although our intention was to stay longer, I nonetheless want to thank residents, especially our employees, for their warmth and hospitality while we were here," VP Joe Coltman says in a written statement announcing the closure.
Coltman said all affected regular, full-time workers will get severance packages, career transition assistance, and an opportunity to apply for open jobs elsewhere in BAE Systems.
BAE's time in Grainger County has seen upswings and downswings, with the uncertainties of federal contracts typically being cited for the changes.
Coltman's full statement is below:
BAE Systems Statement: Grainger County Plant Closure
"It is with great regret that I must announce the permanent closure of BAE Systems manufacturing facility in Grainger County, Tennessee, effective this Friday, February 5. The closure will impact 173 regular and temporary workers.
I want to reiterate that although we will be closing the plant, we remain committed to working with our employees through this difficult time. In addition to severance packages for all regular, full-time employees, all regular workers will receive career transition assistance and the opportunity to apply for open positions within BAE Systems' family of companies.
On a personal note, I want to thank each one of our Grainger plant employees. Over the past few years, despite the constant ebb and flow of our economy and industry, they've exhibited a work ethic and commitment to our fighting men and women that's second to none. When faced with temporary closures and other set backs, including the news that we had not been awarded the initial contract for the Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV), they exercised patience and a willingness to resume work when called upon.
While it is true that we must adjust our production and staffing to reflect business realities, that fact in no way lessens nor diminishes the impact the closure will have on our employees and the community. For our part, we will continue to do what we can for our employees, making every effort to assist them through this difficult transition.
In 2007, the community of Grainger County welcomed BAE Systems to the 'neighborhood.' And although our intention was to stay longer, I nonetheless want to thank residents, especially our employees, for their warmth and hospitality while we were here.
Thank you all."
Vice President, Personnel Protection Systems, BAE Systems