A Glimmer of Hope

By: Justin Ware
By: Justin Ware

The job cuts coming to the Illinois Tool Works manufacturing plant in Darlington could end up hurting more than just the employees.

"It's very important to us," said Jay Mathys, ACE Hardware owner, "because when they come to town to work, they come here and they spend money."

Mathys owns one of the many businesses in this small town that rely on Darlington's small population to keep them going.

If the Illinois Tool Works plant closes, that could mean almost twenty fewer households will be buying from these shops.

"If they have to drive out of town, for work," said Mathys, "when they're done with work, they're probably going to stop somewhere in that town."

But state leaders are doing what they can to prevent the job losses from ever happening.

At a meeting on Monday, lawmakers and local business leaders were giving hope to a group of employees, who just five days ago, found out their jobs will be gone a year from now.

"We got a lot of support on our side," said Robert Jenson, ITW Employee facing a layoff, "It's great to see a lot of people here looking out for us, we're not by ourselves. It's just a sigh of relief."

" I feel real good about the meeting," said Tom Massy, hopeful ITW employee. "It sounds like we have a lot of opportunities for us ... and I got a lot of phone calls to make to actually talk to people (laughs)"

At the meeting, the business leaders told the employees they would be working with ITW and offering the company incentives, in the hopes of keeping the jobs in town.

If that doesn't work, they hope to bring a new company to Darlington.

"I can assure the folks here locally that we'll put a great deal of effort into doing one of those two things," said Bill Winter, Wisconsin department of commerce.

Most of the speakers at the meeting say they're optimistic they can keep some type of employment in Darlington for the displaced workers.

But they were also discussing the possibility of those workers having to use unemployment benefits.

So the future is still very much up in the air for the ITW employees.


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