Siemens Gamesa announced Wednesday morning that it is permanently laying off 195 hourly workers and 7 salaried employees at its wind turbine blade manufacturing plant in Fort Madison.
“Business volume at this location through the 2018 fiscal year does not support the existing workforce level,” said a spokesperson for the company. “While we remain strongly committed to the long-term viability of the U.S. wind market, a difficult decision has to be made to adjust the Fort Madison workforce.”
The spokesperson said the layoffs are effective immediately and the company will provide workers with 60 days’ pay as compensation. That will drop the staffing level at the plant to about 330 people.
A statement from the company said the layoffs do not affect the viability of the plant in Fort Madison, "As a reflection of the importance of Fort Madison to our business strategy moving forward, we are making a significant capital investment at the plant to install additional blade molds for new wind turbine models."
The spokesperson did not provide the specific amount of money that is being invested in Fort Madison, other than to say a total of $35-million will be invested between the plant and another plant in Kansas.
The company anticipates recalling some employees this year based on potential business growth from the investment in the new blade molds.
The last round of major layoffs at the plant in Fort Madison was in 2012 when citing concerns over the future of federal wind energy production tax credits, the company laid off about 400 full-time employees. It took several months for the company to start hiring people back.
The Lee County Economic Development Group said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that the news of the layoffs is unfortunate and that it is working to help the employees affected.
"Local and state rapid response teams are already in place and are being utilized to provide transition services to these employees," said LCEDG's Dana Millard in an email to TSPR. "We are working with our partners to assist in providing resources such as assistance in finding new local employment, career counseling, and training opportunities."