Layoffs not planned at Missouri's other two 3M plants

Thursday, October 4, 2007 | 4:14 p.m. CDT; updated 5:49 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

COLUMBIA — Despite a massive layoff planned at Columbia’s 3M plant, no other job losses are expected at this time at the company’s other Missouri locations in Springfield and Nevada, 3M officials said.

Company officials said last week the Columbia facility would be shedding nearly half its workforce — about 240 workers — by next summer. “Initially, there was some concern because we’re both in Missouri,” said Dean McDowell, manager of the Springfield plant. McDowell overheard some employees in the company’s break room expressing concern about job security and went in to allay their fears. He told them that there was no reason to panic because the Springfield plant manufactures adhesive-coated films, products for a different market than those produced at the Columbia plant. In fact, the Springfield plant will increase its workforce by 10 to 20 percent over the next two years, McDowell said.

Dave Clauss, manager of 3M’s Nevada facility, said that any time questions of job security arise, some employees will be apprehensive.

“Any time they hear about it, they’re concerned,” he said.

Clauss said his employees should feel confident about their jobs because, like the Springfield plant, his plant manufactures different products than those made in Columbia. The Nevada plant produces vinyl graphic films used in advertising.

The Columbia location will continue to manufacture electronic interconnects, magnetic markers used in library systems and medical diagnostic products. But the plant will cease making the flexible circuits used in, among other things, ink cartridges.

3M said in a press release that the circuits will instead be made in California and Singapore, which would “shorten the supply chain” and put them “closer to customers in the electronics industry.”

Clauss doesn’t think the layoffs are symptomatic of larger problems at 3M. Regardless, he couldn’t help but feel for the people who will lose their jobs.

“Anytime you hear of a layoff, you always think of the families,” he said.

Both the Springfield and Nevada plants are looking into ways to help the laid off workers in Columbia. Clauss said that 3M likes to hire from within because of the “similar job expectations” for most factory positions. 3M corporate spokeswoman Jackie Berry said there are about 800 employees between the two factories.

Even if workers relocate within the company, Columbia’s economy won’t be able to escape the effects of the job cuts.

“Just like anything else, this is going to have an impact,” said David Meyer, marketing director for Regional Economic Development Inc.

However, Meyer said that Columbia still has a “strong and diversified economy.”

According to REDI, 3M is the area’s 13th largest employer. The report, on REDI’s Web site, was compiled in 2006.

3M, based in St. Paul, Minn., is perhaps best known as the maker of Post-It Notes, a revolutionary product introduced in 1980. The company, which posted sales of $22.9 billion last year, also makes components used in the health care and transportation industries.

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