BEDFORD, PA (BRAIN)—Betty Slaton has seen layoffs before.
After all, the Bedford County Development Association president has been at her post since 1991. But when the news struck last week that Dorel Industries planned to outsource Cannondale’s manufacturing from Bedford, Pennsylvania, to Asia by 2010, it still struck a chord.
To Slaton those 200 jobs lost aren’t just numbers, they’re people that she knows.
“My secretary last summer died of breast cancer,” Slaton said. “Her husband has worked there [at Cannondale’s Bedford manufacturing facility] for 17 years. He just got his notice.
“Cannondale is part of the heart and soul of the community. They are such a tremendous asset.”
With the facility staying open past 2010 to handle duties such as assembly and customer service, Bedford County will still collect property taxes, but until those 200 workers find new jobs, the county will take a “major blow” when it comes to payroll taxes.
Cannondale was “among the county’s biggest employers,” Slaton said. Other prominent manufacturers (in other industries) that call Bedford County home include JLG, a producer of mobile aerial work platforms and Kennametal, a leading global supplier of tooling, engineered components and advanced materials that are consumed in production processes.
Bedford Borough/Township has a population of roughly 8,000 residents. The county has a population of roughly 50,000. According to Slaton, Bedford County has a 13.2 percent unemployment rate, which ranks them 63 out of 67 counties in Pennsylvania—and that was before Dorel’s recent announcement.
Slaton said through all this recent news her point person has been Bob Octavio, Cannondale controller for the Bedford facility. And while she’s not been in contact with Dorel directly, she would like that to happen in next week or so.
If any county can handle this amount of layoffs it’s Bedford. Slaton said it’s always been important for Bedford to diversify amongst the different industries—not putting too many eggs in one basket. Slaton said agriculture followed by tourism are Bedford County’s strongest industries.
“It’s part of the [current] global economy,” Slaton said of Dorel’s most recent decision.