The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Business

May 11, 2012

Up to 250 to be laid off at ConAgra in Batesville

BATESVILLE, Ark. — A ConAgra Foods Inc. plant in Batesville is to lay off between 230 and 250 workers in July when it moves frozen dinner preparation from the facility to Missouri, the company said Friday.

ConAgra gave notice to the workers on Thursday, with the cuts affecting hourly workers and some managers.

Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh said he knew ConAgra was planning an announcement.

“Last week they called me and said they’d be visiting with me. My fear was that they would be closing,” Elumbaugh told the Batesville Daily Guard reports. “Anytime we have 220 workers lose their jobs, plus 13 supervisors or administrators, it does affect our community.”

The company said it plans to move its frozen dinner line about 300 miles to Marshall, Mo.

Earlier this year, the Batesville plant employed 538 people and the frozen dinner line produced Banquet and Kids Cuisine meals.

ConAgra spokesman Daniel Hare said the move will better help the company manage its costs.

Elumbaugh said he and other officials will work with the state Department of Workforce Services, which helps laid-off workers with training and job placement. Elumbaugh said he wants to ensure the workers “get the benefits they deserve.”

The mayor said the job picture in the city isn’t as bleak as it could be.

“But one of our other poultry plants, Pilgrim’s Pride, is doing well, and is actually hiring,” Elumbaugh said. “When things like this happen, I am thankful we have places like Bad Boy Mowers and the hospital that have recently announced expansions.”

 

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