Mayor on UTEC Job Situation: 'Nothing Has Changed'

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Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters tells Inside INdiana Business that despite last week's word that hundreds of Carrier Corp. jobs are staying put in Indianapolis, "nothing has changed in what UTEC here in Huntington has told us since February." Carrier and United Technologies Electronic Controls Inc. are both subsidiaries of Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX). Prior to the job-saving agreement championed by President-elect Donald Trump and Vice-President-elect Governor Mike Pence was made public, Fetters expressed hope to our partners at WPTA-TV in Fort Wayne that the decision to cut 700 northeast Indiana jobs could be walked back.

In an interview Tuesday morning with IIB Multimedia Journalist Mary-Rachel Redman, Fetters said city officials continue to work to make sure "Huntington is not forgotten." He says "what we've been doing is the same thing we've been doing since February. Number one: making sure that the folks at UTC, the parent corporation of Carrier and UTEC, understand that we're committed to working in a partnership with them in whatever way possible to retain as many jobs here in Huntington." Fetters says the city has stayed in contact with the company and officials in Indianapolis, Huntington and the corporation. "The reality is, as mayor of Huntington, I just represent about 30 percent of the jobs that impact Grant County, Wabash County, Wells County, Huntington County," Fetters added, "so this has a regional impact here in Huntington."

Fetters told our partners at WPTA-TV last week he was hopeful that Carrier's decision to keep some 800 jobs in Indianapolis "negates a need" for the work at UTEC to head to Mexico. Tuesday, he told Inside INdiana Business "in light of the fact that there is going to be a Carrier presence in Indianapolis, from a mayor's standpoint, I am hopeful that there may be some good still to come here in Huntington. But as we understand it, the 700 jobs originally set to go to Mexico out of Huntington in 2018 are still going to Mexico."

Fetters calls economic development a "full-time job" and says the city has other employers, like Continental Structural Plastics, that are expanding. He says despite the UTEC jobs leaving Huntington, the company is still planning to keep around 100 research and development, engineering, corporate headquarters and product marketing jobs where they are. Fetters says UTEC has been a great corporate citizen for 30 years "and whatever presence they want to maintain here in Huntington, while it probably will be diminished, we're very jealous to keep that right here." He says it will be a lot of hard work to replace the jobs lost, but a combination of 180 additional jobs planned at CSP and another 40 at Ecolab could add to a "collection of corporate citizens who want to come and offset some of those challenges." Fetters says the city will also look to focus on entrepreneurship and growing its own businesses.

Editor's Note: a version of the story that ran in our INside Edge e-newsletter mistakenly referred to Mayor Brooks Fetters as "Bruce" Fetters.

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