Stillwater Rallying to Help Mercury Marine Workers Facing Unemployment
By Jacqueline Sit, NEWS 9
STILLWATER, Oklahoma -- Mercury Marine employees in Stillwater are worrying about their future after the company announced it would relocate more than 300 jobs to Wisconsin within two years.
"Many of those people have been working there 20 to 25 years. It's not just about dollars and cents. It's about 'this has been my life and now I'm transitioning to another stage. It's a very difficult process for us,'" said Josh McKim, Stillwater Chamber of Commerce.
Mercury Marine announced it will ultimately close its Stillwater plant, and although jobs will be moving to Wisconsin, many employees are worried they are not guaranteed to move with their position. Other employees said they just don't want to move.
The Stillwater Chamber of Commerce is trying to help those workers fight this emotional and constant uphill battle in a place many have long called home.
"We're going to do everything we can regardless if it's in Stillwater and get those people back to work," McKim said.
The Oklahoma Workforce Board in Stillwater is also trying to help, but the job market is fierce.
"To find a direct correlating job here in manufacturing like the people in Mercury Marine have will have very slim chances of finding it in the immediate area," said Carey Seigle, Oklahoma Employment Security Commission
With the help of stimulus money, the Oklahoma Workforce Board has put more people through training than ever before from building their resume to going through interviews. The agency is no stranger to this as they've helped a wave of those who were previously let go by the boat manufacturer.
"A lot of it is the emotional part of losing the job and now losing the company there's no hopes of being called back," Seigle said. "We try to convince them that everything is not hopeless. There are things you can do and there are skills that are marketable."
The jobs will be moving within the next 18 to 24 months. In the meantime, the officials with the chamber are looking into how they can market the property to keep jobs in the city.
Mercury Marine will also pay back all state tax incentives with interest that it has received from the state next week.