Our opinion: Keeping it here

GE Transportation is moving as many as 950 jobs at its Lawrence Park plant near Erie to For Worth, Texas.

That number could change somewhat based on possible negotiations with the local union. Translation: If the union agrees to substantial reductions in its contract, some of those jobs could stay in Erie.

Sound familiar?

If you counted the number of large manufacturing employers in Warren County that are now somewhere else, you would quickly run out of fingers to keep track. Struthers Wells, featured on Saturday on our front page, was one of those employers. What once was an industry that occupied most of Warren’s west side and employed upwards of 1,000 people has shrunk to less than 20 employees in rented quarters on Clark Street, its manufacturing having long since moved downt the pike. They’ll be walking out the door for the last time on Friday. When the door closes behind them it will sound more like a wimper than a slam.

We are not alone.

The decisions to move businesses away from Warren County are seldom made by local owners and managers.

The same fate could have befallen the National Forge if Ellwood Group’s board of directors didn’t regularly meet in Ellwood City rather than a high-rise in Manhattan or Dallas, Texas.

We so often hear people admonish local elected officials and the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry to bring industry back to Warren County as if it were a simple matter of making a few phone calls.

It is not. Most of the fish are swimming in the opposite direction, and they are looking mostly for cheaper labor, whether it is in Texas or Mexico. Their loyalties are to stockholders, not a community.

The smart money is on growing locally sprouted manufacturers, nurturing them, and then convincing them that Warren County is worth the long-term commitment.