Iowa community could lose 900 workers as two companies scale back

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NEWTON, Iowa — Wind energy was supposed to lead to a greener future for the financial well-being of hundreds of families in Newton who previously saw 3,000 jobs disappear after Maytag left town for good in 2007. But Thursday, those families learned that nearly 900 jobs could be gone by year’s end.

TPI Composites notified employees and Newton city leaders that it had no plans for production in 2022. The plant produced wind blades for General Electric. If the company can’t find a new customer or quickly find a way to produce a different product in Newton, it plans to lay off nearly 800 employees by December.

Newton leaders released this statement following a meeting with TPI late Thursday afternoon.

“It’s unfortunate that industry specific issues may cause TPI to suspend production at their Newton facility at the end of December,” stated City Administrator Matt Muckler. “TPI’s General Manager Josh Syhlman shared the news of this potential suspension of production with City officials Thursday afternoon. TPI’s workforce comes from all over the region so this would impact not only Newton but many communities throughout Central Iowa.”

“In the event that this suspension of production takes place, the City and its local economic development partners and social service providers will work to assist those residents impacted. Newton is a resilient community with a diversified economy,” stated Mayor Michael L. Hansen. “And while this potential suspension of manufacturing will have an impact on TPI employees and their families, we will continue to work together to overcome this challenge as a community.”

The layoffs at TPI Composites are the second economic hit for the community. Arcosa Wind Towers–a company based in Dallas, Texas–notified the Iowa Workforce Development that it would lay off 82 employees in Newton effective October 19th. That is roughly half of its workforce that produces wind towers.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley’s office sent WHO 13 this statement in response to the day’s developments:

“It’s disappointing to see any workers in Iowa be laid off, especially in Newton, which has been through this before. These were good paying jobs that played a critical part in the community,” Grassley said. “Wind energy is still extremely important to Iowa and our country’s overall energy independence. And demand is up; Last year, wind energy was installed throughout the country more than any other energy source. I’m hopeful another manufacturer will soon utilize the great talent pool in Newton.”

City leaders say two factors worked against the two companies in Newton: Congress has yet to extend the the wind energy tax credit and record steel prices.

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