Job loss in Roseburg

Job loss in Roseburg

With a June unemployment rate at a staggering 14.4%, the recent news that Alcan Cable in Roseburg was shutting down was another unwelcome blow to Douglas County’s economy.

By the end of 2010, Alcan’s aluminum manufacturing plant will close, following a series of layoffs that began in October 2009.

“It’s the only decision that made sense,” says plant manager Sean Milner. Milner has worked for Alcan for 23 years, but by the end of the year he will be looking for work along with the remaining 78 employees.

Alcan has five manufacturing plants in North America, but the decline in construction has hit the Atlanta-based company hard.

Alcan informed the employees in advance and scheduled layoffs, says Helga Conrad, director of the Umpqua Economic Development Partnership, and the company has been offering employees assistance.

Roseburg’s economy was hit hard by the housing decline that began in 2007. Dell’s call center closed the same year and Bayliner Boat’s manufacturing plant closed in 2008. Douglas County’s unemployment rate climbed to 16.5% in May 2009.

In January of this year, Douglas County’s unemployment rate dropped to below 13%, a small glimmer of hope for Roseburg city officials, but it’s been rising since then.

“We’ve had closures and downsizing,” Conrad says, but Roseburg still has several family-owned businesses providing employment opportunities. Additionally, Costco opened a store in August.

Alcan worked with city officials and sponsored community events, Conrad says, and the community is sorry to lose the company. Conrad is trying to fill the building Alcan is vacating.

“[Harley Davidson] would be a perfect fit,” she says.