Spate of Plant Closures in Michigan Beginning to Feel Like the Lost Decade 2.0

We’ve noticed a troubling trend recently that brings back memories of a time we’d like to all forget in the state of Michigan – The Lost Decade. The trend is a series of manufacturing plant closures that all have one common denominator.

First, a little background.

Michigan’s “Lost Decade” refers to the period from roughly 2000 to 2010, when our state experienced some of the highest unemployment rates in the United States, which led to a mass exodus of residents seeking jobs elsewhere. In fact, Michigan also was the only state in the U.S. to lose population during that time period.

After a modest growth rate in Michigan’s population growth during 2010-2020, our state is again experiencing population challenges. Worse yet, we’ve noticed a spate of plant closures in the last few weeks that all have one thing in common: the closures are coming from companies with a national reach that decided to eliminate or significantly reduce operations in Michigan.

Just recently, the following layoffs were announced:

  • Tubelite, a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Apogee Enterprises, announced the layoff of 106 workers at its Walker facility.
  • MHS Conveyor Corp., part of Atlanta-based Fortna Inc., is ending manufacturing operations in Norton Shores and Walker, negatively impacting 102 jobs for local families.
  • Itasca, Ill.-based Fellowes Brands Inc. will terminate 117 positions at its Trendway Corp. facility in Holland Township.

These closures are on top of news this year that General Motors will lay off 1,314 employees at two factories in Michigan.

Although it’s too early to make any definitive conclusions, it’s no secret that Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a series of anti-job, anti-worker policy measures into law that are hurting our state’s efforts to grow jobs and attract new economic development opportunities.

And while state Democrats say they have a trifecta in state government – with control of the governor’s office, Michigan House and Michigan Senate – they’ve also instituted a trifecta of terrible public policy – repealing our state’s landmark right-to-work law, reinstating the antiquated prevailing wage law, and instituting draconian, one-size-fits-all, energy mandates.

The simple truth is that job creators don’t want to operate in a state that is hostile to their workers and their company’s viability.

We’re going to continue to advocate for common-sense public policies that help create jobs and safeguard Michigan families. We hope you do the same. Please contact your state representatives and senators and tell them to start working for the people again.