Chuck Cadena, a Boeing spokesman, said since Boeing is doing well overall, and there are plenty of positions within the company for those employees willing to relocate. There are Boeing facilities in almost all 50 states, though Arkansas will be left with only a warehouse when the Melbourne plant closes.
"We think we can find places for everyone," Cadena said. He said other aviation companies, which have jobs similar to those of Melbourne facility, have already inquired about employees.
Cadena said Boeing is also working with the state of Arkansas to place those not willing to relocate or move out of state with other jobs. Boeing will provide career transition services to help its Melbourne employees find employment opportunities outside of Boeing. He said each employee has a 60-day layoff notice, which will give them time to decide what they want to do.
Boeing announced Feb. 9 that it will cease operations of its Melbourne plant sometime in the second quarter of this year. The 103 employees were informed of the the decision at an employee meeting.
"We have made a difficult decision to close the Boeing facility in Melbourne, which has seen its work statement steadily decline," said Joy Romero, director of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Salt Lake City facility, which has oversight of the Melbourne facility.
Cadena said the work statement is the amount of work that the facility actually has to do.
"It's something we had spent a while looking at," said Cadena, adding that the company looked at other options before making a decision.
Izard County Judge Rayburn Finley said Boeing contacted him the day the decision was made to close the company. "Rumor has been going around about it," he said.
"It'll have an impact. When you lose 50-100 jobs out of a little area like we have, it hurts," Finley said. He also said Boeing pays quite a bit in taxes to the county.
"We still have Columbia Flooring, which is a good business," Finley said. He said that it would a harmful impact if the county lost both Boeing and Columbia. Columbia is doing well, he said.
"I think they've (Boeing) been great and put a lot of money into the area. I hate to see them go," Finley said.
"We deeply appreciate the professionalism and the outstanding performance by the Boeing employees in Melbourne in supporting our customers. However, this decision reflects the unfortunate business realities facing the Melbourne operations," Romero said.
While Boeing has seen its overall business do well, the Melbourne plant has been in decline, Cadena said. He said the company had even cut the plant back to a 32-hour work week for employees.
One of the main reasons for the shutdown is that the key contract supporting the U.S. Navy's E-6 program expired and the potential for the plant to be used for anything else was limited, Cadena said.
The Melbourne facility serves as a repair station for Boeing doors and flight control. It provides maintenance, repair and overhaul services. Cadena said since there is not enough of that type of work in Boeing.
Boeing will transfer the remaining work performed at the Melbourne facility to its operations in Salt Lake City.