Workers Search For New Jobs As Powermate Closes - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Workers Search For New Jobs As Powermate Closes

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Hundreds in Kearney left searching for work.  Powermate will close its doors for good on Friday.  The company filed for bankruptcy this week.  But all is not lost for employees of the plant during this trying time.

Stan Zimbelman, the manager for the Nebraska Workforce Development Group in Kearney, said, "In our culture, a job is such an identity thing, you're identified by where you work and to have that suddenly taken away is difficult."

The plant which makes generators and air compressors will shut down, 200 employees out of work with no warning.

"I talked with a gentleman this morning and he's been out there for 30 years and he knows everyone in the plant and he's losing part of his family and it can be really difficult," Zimbelman explained.

Powermate at one point had 700 workers in Kearney, but the last few years have seen hundreds of layoffs.

"These problems may have developed over a longer period of time than just recently," said Dale Pohlmann, the Chairman of the Buffalo County Economic Development Organization."I think we're fortunate in the fact that our economy is strong and there are lots of opportunities for people, who are hurt detrimentally short term."

Kearney has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, and businesses are jumping at the chance.

"We've heard from employers in Grand Island, Hastings, Lexington, Holdrege, as far away as McCook has called," Zimbelman described. "These are the ones that showed up for work every day and did their job and have been rewarded for being good employees.

But it won't become a reality until the lines shut down for good on Friday.

"There's a possibility we've been told that a business still could come forward and buy the company and keep it going as an ongoing business," Pohlmann concluded.

Powermate has been open in Kearney for 22 years.  The Workforce Development Company will help employees with resumes and other job related things, and for some it may be the first time they've built a resume in 20 years.

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