No one could have foreseen the abrupt shuttering of the city's prized bowling ball manufacturer Ebonite International last week. However, we are fortunate to see the Christian County community rally with grace and gumption around those affected.
Hopkinsville-Christian County officials offered up an immediate action plan to put the 172 employees who lost their jobs last Friday back to work as quickly as possible.
The West Kentucky Workforce Board and the Kentucky Career Center rose to the occasion, organizing a series of Rapid Response meetings about potential new employment opportunities and other essential information.
South West Kentucky Economic Development Council Director Mark Lindsey shared a roundup of job fairs and hiring information for nearly 10 industries this week, including Huhtamaki, Metalsa, Continental Mills, the Commonwealth Agri-Energy ethanol plant, Riken Elastomers, Stanley Engineered Fastening, TG Gosei, Novelis and T.Rad North America.
The rapid response of the community is the "silver lining" in this difficult situation, as Hopkinsville Mayor Carter Hendricks said.
Unfortunately, we cannot ignore the domino effect this will have on the community.
Robert Martin, the city's financial officer, noted at Tuesday's city council meeting that the Ebonite closure is a $150,000 hit to payroll tax revenue for this year. That money helps fund the general fund budget, which contributes to the services (such as police and fire, parks and planning) that keep our city operating.
Solid Waste director Tony Sicari acknowledged that the closure amounts to a $98,000 loss for their department in the coming year. And, let's not forget the revenue streams and jobs that were created by Ebonite outsourcing essentials like office supplies and cleaning staff.
Furthermore, local businesses and services in the private sector that have been supported by these 172 individuals and their families are sure to feel the effect of their scaling back during this uncertain time.
In one way or another, everyone will feel the after effects of this news, and it is up to the community to continue to rally around those in need, whether that means sharing a job posting with your neighbor who might not find work immediately or donating to a nonprofit that can help fill in the gaps.
The Salvation Army has partnered with the Hopkinsville-Christian County Convention and Visitors Bureau to raise funds for the families for Christmas. Proceeds from the $5 sale of Ebonite squishy balls will go toward the Salvation Army's Angel Tree, which is adding gifts for the children of former Ebonite staff to the list.
Hopkinsville and Christian Countians are known for their empathy, sense of community and love for their neighbor. We are so proud of our community at this difficult time.
We encourage everyone to continue to rally around those facing uncertain circumstances. News like this is not unique to bowling ball manufacturers, coal miners, local industry or even newspapers.
At any moment anyone could be met with unwelcome circumstances. Thankfully, this exceptional community will rally should that day ever come.