Knoxville leaders not surprised by Sea Ray closure

Knoxville leaders not surprised by Sea Ray closure

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"It will make a large dent in our local economy," said Mayor Burchett. "It will make a large dent in our local economy," said Mayor Burchett.
"Sea Ray has been a long-term staple in our community," said Edwards. "Sea Ray has been a long-term staple in our community," said Edwards.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The owner of Sea Ray Boats announced Tuesday plans to close their Knoxville plant by the end of 2012, cutting 225 jobs.  

 

The closing doesn't come as a surprise to the local politicians and business leaders. TBut they say the loss of local jobs will have an impact nevertheless.  

"Sea Ray has been a long-term staple in our community, they've made a lot of boats here," said Knoxville Chamber CEO Mike Edwards.  

The company won't be making boats in Knoxville anymore. The closure is the result of a company consolidation.

"It will make a large dent in our local economy," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.  

It's a move local leaders said is a sign of the boat manufacturing industry, more than the shape of the local economy. 

"There's not much we can do. The market isn't there. The economy is still a long ways off from recovering. Folks aren't buying luxury boats, they're struggling to buy groceries, keep a roof over their head," Burchett said.  

The closure leaves 225 workers out of a job, many of them high-paying manufacturing jobs.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said she will help those workers who have been laid off.

"We will work with them and the state and workforce development to try to identify jobs which they would be qualified for," Rogero said.

Leaders still said there is reason to be optimistic about the local economy.

"Good thing about the Knoxville area is that it's one of the best job-creating areas in the country," said Sen. Lamar Alexander.

More than 6,000 jobs were created in the Knoxville area in the past year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Knoxville Chamber said those are promising numbers. And there are more to come.

A new manufacturing company broke ground Friday on a new facility in West Knox County.

Germany-based BHS Corrugated makes corrugated rolls, the metal cylinders that are used to crimp cardboard to make corrugated cardboard.

The chamber said the opening of this facility is one reason why it may be easier for Sea Ray employees to find new jobs.

"The people that are losing their jobs are highly-skilled workers. In this economy, highly-skilled workers are having no problem finding new jobs," said Mike Edwards.  

Of course, this isn't the first time Sea Ray has laid off workers in Knoxville. In 2009, the company closed two plants at Forks of the River and cut 540 jobs.  

Brunswick the owner of Sea Ray, estimates consolidating its U.S cruiser production will save the company between $10 million and $12 million each year.

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