We certainly want to avoid the appearance of rejoicing over news that giant aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin wants to close its plant near Syracuse.
On the contrary, we are sympathetic and empathetic with that region, which is struggling with a shaky economy with fewer and fewer industrial powers to prop it up.
At stake are 1,600 jobs — not minimum-wage kinds of jobs, but highly skilled, highly paid positions filled by experienced employees.
Syracuse has already lost plants owned and run by General Motors, Carrier and Chrysler. Lockheed Martin, in nearby Salinas, is the last of a long line of companies that have historically kept Central New York bustling and prosperous.
The 1,600 people at Lockheed Martin would face having to find new employment or move out of the area to another of the company’s plants, if jobs are even available elsewhere.
Fortunately for Salinas, Syracuse and the 1,600 employees, a reporter from the Syracuse Post-Standard learned of Lockheed Martin’s secret plans to close, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) intervened to buy some time.
But it does remind us in the North Country that, while we are not exactly managing an economy to drive the entire state, our proximity and partnership with Canada — and primarily Montreal — gives us a financial atmosphere that, to date, anyway, has kept us relatively comfortable.
Among our industrial staples are Canadian-based Bombardier and Nova Bus, makers of trains and buses. While defense contractors are constantly at the whim of federal budgets, no municipal transportation authority can allow its fleet to wear out and run down.
The North Country being so close to Quebec and Montreal gives us a huge advantage in courting their industries. They need a foot in the lucrative U.S. markets because purchasing is often contingent on manufacture being at least partially achieved in America.
Thanks in part to Canadian companies that set up store in our area, the local economy remains steady.
It’s not that we haven’t experienced business setbacks of our own. The biggest is probably the loss of Pfizer employment in Rouses Point, Chazy and Plattsburgh, which cost this area the equivalent of what Salinas is facing now. Development agencies are still searching for a replacement.
Meanwhile, though, the North Country chugs along in the shadow of Montreal. It’s a protective shield that other areas, such as Central New York, don’t have.
We earnestly hope the influential Schumer and others can find enough incentives to retain Lockheed Martin for the Syracuse area.
We understand what coping with that kind of loss can be like.