BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Workforce Commission and Louisiana Economic Development are exploring all possible options to keep Northrop Grumman’s Avondale Shipyard open in light of yesterday’s announcement that the facility is slated for closure in 2013.
“At the top of our agenda is keeping the shipyard open with employees continuing to work onsite for Northrop Grumman,” said LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink.
Eysink said the state is working with Northrop Grumman, Louisiana’s Congressional delegation and the secretary of the Navy to advocate for a plan that would enable Avondale to produce two more LPD ships, which would keep the facility open as a military shipbuilding operation through at least 2015.
At the same time, LED recently initiated discussions with other companies who could use the same site and retain Northrop Grumman employees. Additionally, the state, through LED, is developing a comprehensive facility assessment and marketing plan, including identification and pursuit of additional shipbuilders that could utilize the site, as well as non-shipbuilding manufacturers and other potential job-creating projects.
“Our administration has been very aggressive in pursuing new business development projects, ranking best in the South for the past two years for significant new business development project wins per capita,” said LED Secretary Stephen Moret. “The Globalstar headquarters relocation announcement yesterday, as well as the Folgers expansion announced in March, are evidence that Louisiana is becoming an increasingly attractive place in which to do business, and that we're having success in our business development efforts.”
More major job announcements are expected in the New Orleans area in the next six to nine months, Moret said, and LED and LWC will aggressively connect dislocated workers with all of these emerging opportunities.
If there ultimately is a closure of all or part of the site, it likely will be in phases. In addition, the Northrop Grumman workforce contains a high proportion of skilled craftspeople whose skills historically have been in short supply in Louisiana, making them attractive recruits for other employers who may already be in Louisiana and considering expansions, or who may be considering expanding to Louisiana.
Over the past 18 months, the LWC’s Rapid Response team has provided re-employment services to dislocated workers and also helped the company recruit welders and fitters to fill more than 200 vacancies necessary because of the cyclical nature of the shipbuilding industry. In addition, 17 orientation sessions and four targeted job fairs have been held for employees since January 2009.
In the event of additional layoffs, the LWC’s Rapid Response team stands ready to work with Northrop Grumman and its employees to set up a transition center and provide employees with services that include general orientation, interest and skills assessments, training on how to look for work, help with building effective résumés, coaching on financial and stress management, training for alternate careers and job placement services.
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