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Navassa plant to shut doors; governor announces 'rapid response'

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Gov. Mike Easley has announced a rapid response team from the N.C. Department of Commerce is being deployed to Brunswick Corporation’s U.S. Marine boat-building plant in Navassa.

The announcement came soon after U.S. Marine announced it would shut down the plant, which employs about 270 workers, along with three others in other parts of the country.

“I have directed the rapid response team to work with U.S. Marine and local employment partners to help these workers begin the process to either find new jobs or gain additional training to take advantage of other employment opportunities,” Easley said. “Our rapid response team is committed to making sure the time these employees are out of work is as short as possible.

"The commerce department’s Workforce Development Division is in the process of arranging an initial meeting with company officials to determine what services will be needed. Following that, meetings will begin with employees.”

The team, led by the commerce department, consists of representatives from state and local agencies, including the local work force development board, the Employment Security Commission/JobLink Career Centers and the N.C. Community College System.

The team helps coordinate transitional services for employees who have lost their jobs due to layoffs or facility closures, according to the governor’s office.

Services provided to workers may include job search and placement assistance, job fairs, financial planning workshops, career counseling, labor market information and assessment of skills and needs, according to the governor’s office.

Eli Smith, director of the Shallotte ESC office, said his office would assist by providing information on unemployment and bringing in assistance from other agencies including Brunswick Community College and local financial managers.

The announcement comes as another blow to the economy in Navassa and Brunswick County.

Brunswick Corp. last year acquired the former Rampage Yachts building in the Leland Industrial Park, within the town limits of Navassa, and Easley was on hand to announce the company would create 858 jobs and invest $51.2 million during the next five years.

In July, U.S. Marine’s parent company, Brunswick Corp., announced nationwide cutbacks and the layoffs of 50 employees at the Navassa plant.

A company spokesperson said the economy had drastically decreased the demand for boats.