Industries expect job growth despite pandemic

Published 6:37 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2020


“Cautiously optimistic” is how Jody Lassiter, president and CEO of the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership sees the local industries’ planned growth and expansions for the upcoming year, and how the COVID-19 pandemic could alter those plans.

In mid March, Lassiter sent out his “BOLD Bulletin, special edition” report to EDP board members and partners stating that a total of 693 jobs were planned on being added among five industries through February 2021.

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On Tuesday, Lassiter stated, “We obviously are watching cautiously how deep and how long will the COVID-19 will impact those plans.”

Two industries in Boyle County have temporarily closed because of the pandemic, Lassiter said. Denyo is closed until April 4, and Sellers Engineering shut down production last week and will remain closed until May 4, he said.

“It’s a sliding scale of jobs subject to layoffs,” Lassiter said. “I’m being reasonable. I’m not promising blue skies and rainbows,” but he’s expecting the strong path of planned job growth will soon help the local economy recover quickly, once the pandemic subsides.

In the BOLD Bulletin, Lassiter wrote:

  • LSC Communications is in the process of hing 200 material handlers “for its Danville operations to accommodate the growth in production as a result of closures at three other facilities in the eastern US.”
  • American Greetings hired 140 general factory workers in February and “plans to add 175 more by February 2021, “for a total 315 new employees,” which is 125 more jobs than expected that American Greetings planned on for its expansion.
  • Meggitt Aircraft Braking System plans to proceed for “final approval for state incentives for adding 84 new positions by June 30.”
  • Adkev, is in the process of adding its first 70 employees “as it ramps up production to add a third shift in June in the former Caterpillar facility.”
  • Wilderness Trail Distillery plans to add 25 new positions “as a result of its expansion, which grew by 15 additional positions during the course of expansion. WTD plans to move its production to a 24/7 schedule, which will probably grow its workforce even further.

“In the current circumstances, we are working closely with our existing industries to provide any support or to facilitate the latest information to aid them in their operations. By doing so, we hope that we can emerge from this crisis more quickly so that these business objectives can be realized sooner,” Lassiter wrote in the bulletin.

On Tuesday, Lassiter said, “Hopefully we’ll get back to business as usual within the next month.” Referring to the projected job expansion for the next year, “I hope we continue to deliver on that.”