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Illinois Manufacturing Jobs Lost After Plant Shuts Down

Posted on February 23, 2010

Bunge, a soybrean processing plant, has announced it plans to stop processing soybeans and shut the plant down, resulting in the loss of Illinois manufacturing jobs.

The shutdown is permanent.

Bunge has been an employer in the Danville, Illinois area for decades. They have almost 300 employees, and although 100 jobs are cut now, outlook on the rest of the employees’ statuses has yet to be decided.

“We have to work with the union on (identifying) the hourly employees,” said Deb Sidell, spokeswoman for St. Louis-based Bunge North America, told Commercial-News.com.

She said the employee cuts were not simple layoffs and were being made in participation of a “permanent shutdown” of the soybean division.

“This doesn’t come easy because we’ve been a part of the Danville community for a long time,” she said.

Corporate officials blame the general state of the soybean market, which they say has become over-saturated with producers. The Danville plant was more at risk for staff cuts due to added transportation costs associated with it, Sidell explained.

“There’s just too much processing,” she said. “Really, this is related to processing capacity trouble throughout the United States.”

According to IllinoisHomgePage.net, Bunge bought out Lauhoff in the 70’s and has been a hub for the farming industry in Central Illinois and Indiana.

Vicki Haugen, CEO of Vermilion Advantage, says right now it’s too early to tell how deep these cuts will run. She adds, “A lot of questions have come into the office and it will take some time to flush out what the true impact is going to be.”

Bunge processes more than 100-thousand bushels of soybeans a day. It turns crushed beans into meal. It also sells the byproduct oil. That part of the plant will be dismantled.

But there may be a bright spot. Haugen says her company is ready to jump right in and help find work for as many people as they can.

She said the process would include identifying affected employees’ skill sets, and there might be the possibility of matching many of them with several companies currently seeking high-tech employees.

Alicia Clancy, spokeswoman for neighboring Blackhawk Biofuels, which has a supply contract with Bunge, said the change in Bunge operations will not affect Blackhawk.

“We have a procurement team that seeks out (oil suppliers),” she said. “Blackhawk has an advantage in that they can use multiple feed stocks. We will continue to produce biodiesel.”

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