Community Task Force Plans For Goodyear Closing - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Community Task Force Plans For Goodyear Closing

East Texas leaders say responding to Goodyear closing is similar to responding to Hurricane Katrina. Now, they prepare to help the people caught in Goodyear's economic storm.   Following Goodyear's decision to close the Tyler plant, the focus has now changed from saving the the more than 1,000 employees, left without a job. Today at Tyler Junior College, the Goodyear closure community response task force started planning for what workers will need, and where they can get that help in one place.

For task force chairman Senator Kevin Eltife, their task is at hand.

"Honestly we want to shift our focus. We had so much energy and determination to keep the Goodyear plant open, now we have changed that and put all of that energy into help these 1,000 workers. I am hoping we will find a one stop shopping," says Senator Eltife.

A one stop shop similar to what the community did over a year ago for hurricane evacuees.

"I think last year we all had a chance to come together at the disaster recovery center and saw how well we can come together as a community. This is an opportunity to plan ahead and not after the fact.  If we plan well then, those Goodyear employees will not have to go to many different agencies to figure out where to get the services they need," says Christina Fulsom, Executive Director for PATH.

The committee is anticipating services Goodyear workers will need, for example: filing for unemployment, where to get food and utility assistance, and where to go for health care, once they have lost their benefits.

"Our employees have donated to charities for years.  Now the community is coming together for our employees. It really feels good that they are willing to step up and help," says Harold Sweat,  Vice President of United Steelworkers.

However, Tom Mullins say he's working in two different directions.  

"Trying to convince the company not to shut down the plant, not to eliminated all of the jobs.  But dealing with reality that some people are going to need help who have jobs and are about to lose them," says Tom Mullins, President of Tyler Economic Development Council.

Today's task, planning for the worst.

The task force also discussed adding 14 other agencies to the committee.  The committee is hoping to have a plan in place in the next few weeks.

Karolyn Davis, reporting.

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