by Victor Lopez
ODESSA--Heads are still spinning after Wednesday's suprise announcement from Flint Hills Resources, their Odessa plant is closing down. The question is, is the local economy strong enough to withstand the blow?
Thursday afternoon, Members of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce and other city and county leaders met with Flint Hills Resources to discuss possible alternatives to closing down the plant. Even if it closes, there's still some good news on the horizon for employees who will find themselves looking for a new job.
President and CEO of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, Mike George says everyone was compeletely shocked by the announcement. Thursday's meeting with Flint Hills had city and county wide support, "The Odessa Chamber of Commerce's goal is to keep this plant open. The city, the chamber, the county, business community leaders, numerous people have expressed an interest in participating in the survival of the plant. They will all be represented at this meeting with Flint Hills, this afternoon."
Unsure of the options that will be available after the meeting George says this is only the first step in a greater cause.
But should the plant close it's doors for good, Willie Taylor, CEO of the Permian Basin Workforce says all hope is not lost, "We've had DCP, (Duke, Conoco, Phillips) express an interest in providing a job fair for some of those individuals. That was just one, just this morning. So as the word gets around, we have companies want to know, 'what can we do to help' because they're skilled individuals and every company is still looking for skilled individuals."
Some current employees could be offered positions with sister plants, bringing the number of people needing placement from close to 400 to around 250.
Although it's a tough pill to swallow, Taylor says there really isn't reason to panic, "This is the fourth quarter and a lot of the industries are beginning to slow down and cut back as they close out the year. Under no circumstances would I panic. This is not a panic move."