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Spencer apparel maker shifting jobs to Florida

SPENCER, W.Va. — Mustang Survival is ending production operations at its Roane County facility in Spencer.

Warehousing, shipping and receiving and repairs will remain for the time being, but could be out of the building from which the company operates midway through next year.

A Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice filed with Workforce West Virginia in June references the closing with a projected date of Aug. 15.

Mustang began operations in Spencer in 2009 and consolidated all of its West Virginia operations there at the former B.F. Goodrich building in 2013, the same year the Canada-based survival apparel manufacturer was purchased by The Safariland Group of Florida.

“Like all companies, The Safariland Group regularly evaluates how to make its operations more efficient,” the company said in an emailed statement Wednesday. “Following a detailed review of our manufacturing capabilities, we have determined to move our production operations at our Spencer, W.Va., facility to our facility in Jacksonville, Fla., pending the approval of state and local cost-sharing incentives. This move will help create value for our customers and support Safariland’s continued growth.”

A spokeswoman for Safariland said the company isn’t completely pulling out of Spencer.

“They are leaving warehousing, shipping and receiving and Mustang repairs in Spencer,” she said.

The W.A.R.N. notice says 70 employees will be affected by the closure. It’s too early to say how many workers would remain for the other portions of the business, the spokeswoman said.

Affected production employees will be able to apply for the expanded production jobs in Jacksonville, she said.

The former B.F. Goodrich site has come to be known as the “Mustang building” in recent years, said Mark Whitley, executive director of the Roane County Economic Development Authority, which owns the facility. Mustang occupies about 75 percent of the 101,864-square-foot facility, he said.

“The Economic Development Authority has provided a very low rental rate for Mustang because of their capital investment and their employment,” Whitley said.

But without the production operations, that’s no longer feasible.

“It’s a mutual understanding that most likely they will vacate the building in the second quarter of 2017 as we have other potential uses for the building,” Whitley said.

He said he could not elaborate on those potential uses, but commented that “if everything comes to fruition, it’ll end up being a good opportunity for the county.”

There are other local options to keep the additional operations in the area, Whitley said.

Spencer Mayor Terry Williams said the closing of production for Mustang Survival is “sad news” for the city and county.

“We’ve had a lot of it,” he said, referring to the flooding that struck Roane County last month.

The closure will affect the region beyond the county, Williams said, noting some workers transitioned to the Spencer site from the Wirt location after it closed in 2013.

“There were folks from Wirt County that worked here and several from Calhoun County as well,” he said.

“Manufacturing jobs of any type are pretty tough to find in the Mid-Ohio Valley, sometimes even tougher to keep,” Williams said.

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