On Monday, WAAY 31 learned Tarkett in Florence is closing one of its departments.
Corporate Tarkett officials said they're closing their vinyl composition tile (VCT) department at the Florence West location. Company officials said this will start Jan. 1.
That work is moving to Mexico City, where Tarkett recently bought Vinylasa, a VCT manufacturer.
"Any type of change like that, that you're not expecting, is tough," said Jason Imbrogno, an associate professor of economics and finances at the University of North Alabama.
Imbrogno said his heart goes out to the Tarkett employees who will be losing their jobs in a few months, but it's a trend of declining manufacturing jobs affecting the Shoals and other areas.
"We've lost about 1,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector since about May or June of '19," Imbrogno said. "It went farther down right as Covid really became a concern last year, and it's slowly crept back up."
Imbrogno said the loss of these jobs won't have a huge impact on the Shoals economy, but it's a sign of the times.
"This area has unfortunately been shedding manufacturing jobs, and this is just going to contribute to it," he said. "And when we're talking numbers in our Shoals area, you know right now there are about 8,000 to 8,500 employed in manufacturing. So, 50 people losing jobs — it's not zero, it's not a significant percentage of that — but it's more than if this happened in New York City."
Tarkett responded to questions from WAAY 31 with the news release embedded below, and this statement:
"The transition of VCT production to this new site has begun, with the intent to be fully operational for our North American division by the end of 2021.
"The company will continue to rely on the Florence operations for the manufacture of LVT, a growing category for the business, as well as other existing product lines currently produced here. No other changes to the Florence campus are planned at this time. The company is committed to the success of the Florence Campus and will continue to invest in the site.
"We’re working with many of the impacted employees to find job placements for them in other areas of the Tarkett organization. Because of these ongoing conversations, we don’t know exactly how many will ultimately be impacted by this transition."