New Bidder on Tool Plant May Keep Jobs in Springfield

05/11/02 12:00AM



(Host) There's a new bidder for two machine tool shops in Springfield. Town officials say they're now hoping a Delaware bankruptcy court will expedite the sale of the shops. Officials had been planning to ask the court to delay the sale when it looked like an Illinois company wanted to move the shops out of state. That company has withdrawn it's bid and another firm has stepped forward.

According to local officials, the firm has indicated it's interested in keeping the shops in Springfield. Springfield Town Manager Robert Forguites says the town wants the bankruptcy court to approve the sale quickly:

(Forguites) "The longer time it's delayed, the more time it gives customers of the business to consider that maybe this manufacturer's not going to be there and we should be looking somewhere else."

(Host) The former Fellows and Bryant Grinder Company plants have been closed since their owner filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

As recently as two years ago, 600 people were employed at the two shops. Nancy Samson is with the union representing the machine tool workers. Samson says many of the employees laid off when the shops closed are still waiting to see if they'll get their old jobs back:

(Samson) "I'd say it's 50-50. Fifty percent of them are definitely waiting and hoping because that's the only job they know how to do. They've always been machinists, top machinists and there's no other job that they're qualified for. Many of them are going to school to get further educated in computers and anything else that they can get. And some have gotten jobs, low paying jobs."

(Host) Local development officials say in addition to the current bidder, several other parties have shown an interest in buying the machine tool shops and operating them in Springfield.

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