Manufacturing Jobs Dry Up in Southern Illinois

Published December 4, 2017

Honeywell International Inc., a U.S. producer of consumer and commercial goods, announced it will indefinitely close the Honeywell Uranium Hexafluoride Processing Facility in Metropolis, Illinois in the first quarter of 2018, laying off at least 170 employees and 100 contractors.

The Processing Facility, also known as the Honeywell Metropolis Works, is the only facility in the United States capable of producing uranium hexafluoride, a chemical used to produce enriched nuclear fuel. 

‘Devastating’ Job Losses

Metropolis, Illinois Mayor Billy McDaniel (D) says the plant shutdown will be disastrous for the city’s residents.

“It’s devastating for any small community,” McDaniel said. “If you live in a place that has 250,000 people and you lose 200 jobs, it’s probably not noticeable. When you live in a community of 6,500 and lose this many jobs that you actually raise a family on, those jobs are not replaceable.”

Moving Away From Metropolis

The plant’s closure may mean population losses, as people move from Metropolis to more economically prosperous locales, McDaniel said.

“More than likely if they are able to get a full-time, good-paying job, they won’t be eager to come back,” McDaniel said.

Economic Disaster Clean-up

Illinois state Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) says the layoffs hurt many people.

“You know, 170 jobs is a lot of jobs in southern Illinois,” Fowler said. “There’s not that many companies or manufacturers that have that many employees. It’s a huge hit for southern Illinois.”

The Metropolis Works closure demonstrates why making Illinois more attractive to business owners and taxpayers is important, Fowler says.

“It’s something we have to continue to strive to do,” Fowler said. “We have to make southern Illinois, and the state of Illinois, more business competitive. We have to compete with our neighboring states. We have to get back on solid ground with job creation.”

Benjamin Yount ([email protected]) is a writer for the Illinois News Network, a project of the Illinois Policy Institute. An earlier version of this article was published at Reprinted with permission.