Pittsburg continually hit hard by economy

December 8, 2008 6:47:27 PM PST
Dow Chemical Company announced Monday it is laying-off 5,000 employees and closing 20 plants. The layoffs are to reassure Wall Street that the company is acting aggressively to cut costs.

A company spokesman says workers at the Pittsburg plant should find out about the future of their positions by the end of this week.

"Obviously it's a time of anxiety for people as individual plants around the world don't know if they're affected yet," Randy Fischback said.

The Pittsburg plant employs 330 full-time workers and another 150 contractors.

"It makes everybody nervous with everything that's going on," employee Nathan Leiser said.

Pittsburg has been going through some rough times in recently; there have been 300 home foreclosures each month, every month for the past year. Homes that were selling for $300,000-$500,000 are now selling for half the price.

"They went down really drastically, I mean really bad," resident Nelly Gomez said.

The hard times are not just hitting Dow employees and homeowners.

The city lost $3 million this year when houses were re-assessed. Plans for a six story office building next to city hall had to be put on hold. The city's largest employer, the USS POSCO steelmill, has laid-off 70 employees since October, and a redevelopment project that was to be the jewel of downtown has stalled for lack of funding.

"The developer and the bank are working to get themselves out of the situation," Pittsburg director of economic development Brad Nail said.

The townhomes that have already been built sit unfinished; the bank will not give the developer any more money. And on either side sit two empty blocks where two more condo towers were supposed to be built.

When Mark Bolourchi opened his palace of fine food he was counting on the people in those 170 townhomes to buy his caviar and truffles and gourmet olive oils.

"And these are the people supposedly who can afford that kind of lifestyle," Bolourchi said.

Now the project is stalled, the city is repaving the street and nearly every store front is closed along the three blocks that were to be the heart of downtown.

"So any layoffs is a setback for us, but we're confident that over the long haul the region will continue to move forward," Nail said.

Employees remain optomistic, though. The plant recently went through an expansion and employees are hoping that the layoffs will not happen in Pittsburg, but at other plants around the county.


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