Bluefield Mayor responds to Komatsu plant closure

BLUEFIELD, VA (WOAY) – The recent announcement of a plant closure in Bluefield has local officials concerned.

Komatsu is a Japanese multinational corporation that focuses on the manufacturing and supplying of earth-moving equipment. Komatsu America, it’s United States subsidiary, helps run multiple manufacturing plants around the country, including one in Bluefield, Virginia.

Earlier this week Komatsu announced the closure of that Bluefield plant, which will lead to major job losses in the area.

According to Bluefield’s Mayor Donnie Linkous, the announcement came out of nowhere.

“The announcement was made Monday. And they just called the people in from second shift to come in early, and they just closed it. They did not call anybody with our IDA department, they didn’t let the mayor know, they didn’t let the board of supervisors know, they didn’t let any of us know,” Linkous said.

71 employees of the plant are expected to lose their employment there. And earlier this past year, more than 100 other employees were laid off as well.

“That’s devastating to our area, because these people are extremely talented people. They’re good, high paying jobs with good medical insurance. And it’s really gonna be hard to replace that, and it’s gonna hurt our economy in Bluefield, Virginia and surrounding areas.” 

The town of Bluefield and the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors both say they’re willing to work with any businesses that may want to come in and take over the building and potentially return some of those jobs. The pandemic may cause process to slow, however. 

“We’re in a pandemic right now, so there isn’t anybody hiring, especially with the wages that people are used to making. They have homes, they have children in college.” 

Komatsu has announced that they intend to meet with bargaining unit representatives to discuss options for employees impacted by the closure.