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Montgomery president: Butterball closure a 'shock'

Montgomery Village President Matt Brolley
Montgomery Village President Matt Brolley

Village of Montgomery officials expressed disappointment in the announcement by Butterball, LLC that the firm will shutdown its local plant and layoff 600 employees in July.

In announcing the plant closure and layoffs, Butterball officials cited changing consumer needs and market conditions.

In a statement, village officials noted that Butterball had purchased the former Gusto Packing at 2125 Rochester Drive in 2013 and had made considerable improvements and expansions to the 260,000 square foot plant, using in part Revolving Funds from the Village of Montgomery.

In the statement, Village President Mat Brolley said, “Gusto Packing was a long-time, family owned business and when Butterball purchased the plant and made improvements, we anticipated that they would be operating their business here for many years to come. The employees have been very loyal to this facility for a long time, and the sudden closure comes as a shock to them and to us.”

Brolley added that the village will make sure the low-interest economic development loan the village made to Butterball is repaid before the facility closes.

In addition, he said the village will do everything it can for the employees affected by the plant closure and are investigating specific ways to provide assistance and support.

Brolley said Friday morning that helping the Butterball employees in their efforts to find new jobs will be the village's first priority. He noted that he referred Butterball officials to Waubonsee Community College, which will be hosting a job fair next month and offers additional services to individuals seeking employment.

Brolley said the Butterball official he spoke with indicated the firm welcomes any assistance that the village can provide for their employees.

Brolley said he learned of Butterball's plans to shutdown its local plant Thursday afternoon when he began receiving calls from the media.

He said a Butterball official confirmed the firm's decision to close the plant later Thursday afternoon.

Referring to Butterball officials, Brolley said, "It's unfortunate they didn't reach out to us or the state before they made their decision."

Brolley noted that the plant has a long history in the village, dating back to the years it was operated by Gusto Packing.

Yesterday's announcement by Butterball marked the second major layoff announcement affecting a Montgomery area business this year. In March, Caterpillar, Inc., announced that it will shift 800 production jobs from its Oswego Township plant off Ill. Route 31 to other plants.

Brolley said the Butterball official he spoke with indicated they are aware of the pending loss of the local Caterpillar production jobs and the negative impact that the loss of jobs from both plants will have on area families and the economy.

Referring to Butterball, however, Brolley said the layoffs "feel different" since the plant is located within the village's corporate limits and the firm's prior active participation as a member of the Montgomery Economic Development Corporation.

Looking ahead, Brolley said the village and MEDC will work with the broker hired by Butterball to find a new tenant for the building.

He noted that the Butterball plant is located within a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district created by the village board thee years ago. The plant's TIF status should help aid village officials in finding a new tenant or tenants for the plant.

"I'm more optimistic that we can find a new tenant for the Butterball plant than we would be for the Caterpillar plant (should they ever fully vacate their local building), since the Butterball plant is a new facility and is not five million square feet," he said.

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