The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, December 02, 2020 8:10 pm

136 to lose jobs in 2 plant closures

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

More than 135 northeast Indiana workers are poised to lose their jobs early next year following closure notices to the state from two employers.

A defense and aerospace supplier's Fort Wayne operation accounts for more than 50 of those positions.

DCX-CHOL Enterprises Inc. will close its SMI Division at 1615 E. Wallace St. on Jan. 31, putting 52 employees out of work, according to a WARN letter to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires companies planning mass firings or layoffs to notify state and local officials at least 60 days before the effective date.

DCX-CHOL's notice was posted on the department's website Wednesday, the same day a WARN notice was posted from Vibracoustic USA Inc., which plans to eliminate 84 jobs at its Noble County plant.

Vibracoustic's operation at 1496 Gerber St., Ligonier, is projected to close on April 30. The manufacturer makes motor mounts, which reduce noise and vibration, for passenger and commercial vehicles, among other products.

Neither company disclosed a reason for its planned closure.

Vibracoustic's displaced workers, which include 58 production operators, will be eligible to transfer to other locations within the company. The Germany-based company has U.S. operations in Illinois, Michigan and Kentucky in addition to 18 other countries.

Los Angeles-based DCX-CHOL doesn't mention a similar option for its workers, who make military and aerospace cable assemblies, wire harnesses and other products. The company's website lists 15 openings, all in the Los Angeles area.

The manufacturer, which has largely flown under the radar locally, is described as a privately held, American-owned small business on its website.

Vibracoustic made local headlines in late 2008, when it also announced plans to close its Ligonier plant, which employed 72 at the time. Company officials later announced plans to continue operations with fewer workers.

The Great Recession -- and its rebound -- were responsible for those business decisions.

Indiana, like the rest of the world, is in the midst of another economic recession driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Allen County reported 4.9% unemployment in October. Noble County's jobless rate was 4.6%.

Most economists consider anything below 5% unemployment to represent full employment. The percentage ever reaches zero because the labor force includes people who are recent graduates, who have moved to follow a spouse and who are temporarily laid off due to fluctuations in customer demand. 

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