GE's Long Run In Fort Wayne Could Become Distant Memory

By Jeff Neumeyer

January 28, 2014 Updated Jan 28, 2014 at 6:34 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21ALIVE) --- General Electric's long history in Fort Wayne is at risk of coming to a close.

The company has announced intentions to shut down the last remaining operations still hanging on in the community.

The General Electric sign perched on top of a building along Broadway, a symbol of 20th century manufacturing vitality.

At one time, the company had close to 10,000 people on the payroll here.

But the long downhill slide, with jobs moving to Mexico, could hit rock bottom next January, when the only positions still left in town could be shipped across the Mexican border to Monterrey.

A local manager doesn't deny it's a cost control move that's a necessary evil.

“It’s very important to be in the right regions and part of the world to compete and to provide a long-term growth and profitability," said Pat Morello, who is the General Manager for the company’s local specialty motors operations in Fort Wayne.

A little more than 80 workers will be impacted, including just over 20 union people.

GE will negotiate with the unions, but it's likely going to focus on firming up employee transfers and severance packages, not rescuing the local jobs.

A proud industrial heritage in Fort Wayne may soon be reduced to memories.

" Before I was even born, I mean, a lot of the guys that I represent, their moms and their grandparents all worked here, so I mean, this has been a thriving community based around General Electric, so it's definitely disappointing," said Brent Eastom, President of IUE-CWA Local 901.

GE has 13 buildings here in town, but most of them have been empty for quite awhile.

This new development only figures to make it worse.

A lot of folks are curious about what the future holds for the Fort Wayne campus, but unfortunately, there aren't a lot of answers.

“We would absolutely talk to them and continue to keep open discussions with the city and what they would think would be a valuable use of that property," Morello said.

Mayor Henry's administration acknowledges GE's willingness to discuss the campus, though it's unclear who might want to take over the massive Brownfield site, which almost certainly would require a substantial cleanup effort before it could be revitalized.

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