Economy Impacting Tahlequah Business

Friday, October 24th 2008, 5:19 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, OK -- The tough economy is impacting a number of Green Country businesses. American Woodmark, a cabinet maker, is laying off a third of its workforce in Tahlequah.

American Woodmark makes cabinets you can buy at places like Lowe's and Home Depot.

When the company broke ground in Tahlequah in 2002, the Virginia based company had high hopes of eventually hiring 500 employees.

"What's particularly attractive about Tahlequah as opposed to some other areas we looked at were the stability of the community, the availability of the work force, and the business friendly environment," said James Gosa of the American Woodmark Corp. in 2002.

Now, with its workforce at 140 employees in Tahlequah, the company has announced layoffs of 51 workers, a reduction of more than 30%.

David Moore is Tahlequah's Chamber of Commerce Director.

"Anytime you lose jobs, whether it be one, 10, 50 or 100, it does affect Tahlequah," said Moore.

The layoffs will be based on a combination of seniority and job function.

A corporate spokesman says the layoffs are due to a couple of factors, including the continued weakness of the new home construction market and Hurricane Ike.

The company says remodeling and new construction in hurricane damaged areas is basically on hold while insurance claims are settled and infrastructure is repaired.

Moore says despite the layoffs, Tahlequah's economy is well diversified.

"It does hurt, but Tahlequah will do well.  Just last month we had our highest sales tax collections in the history of Tahlequah, and so Tahlequah is doing well," said Moore.

Moore says the company is hopeful laid off workers could be rehired if the economy and home construction picks up by this spring.

The layoffs take effect November 3rd.

Chamber leaders say the state commerce department will work with the company to help with job placement for workers who are being laid off.