For many of us who've spent any significant time in Niagara County, the demise of Harrison Radiator/Delphi Thermal has been a slow, painful one. The facility had flourished at one time, spurring many spin off businesses, from smaller parts suppliers to bars and lunch spots. They've seen employment levels that at one time were approximately 13,000 fall to 2,100, and their assessment has been cut by a third in recent years, to its current $22 million level. There's also been boatloads of public cash dumped into the facility to keep it solvent.
Most people in the Lockport area will tell you that it's not a matter of if the plant will close, but when.
That doom and gloom prediction of the facility's future may be a bit premature. General Motors has announced plans to take back six Delphi facilities, including its Lockport plant, as it tries to restructure outside of bankruptcy.
This certainly doesn't mean the facility will once again be the thriving entity it once was, but it does give us hope. The loss of 2,100 jobs would be pretty devastating to the community. Keep in mind, GM plans to announce the closing of 14 more factories as part of its previously announced effort to shutter 16 plants to trim production and cut costs. The moves will lay off 21,000 workers. Be glad we're not on those lists.
Obviously this means that there are many communities that aren't so fortunate.
As one observer noted, it's not likely that GM would try to reclaim the Delphi operations unless it were serious about returning them to the fold. That's a good sign.
Projects like the possible Yahoo! one are great, and they're sure to create jobs, but let's not forget who brought us to the dance. Companies like Harrison/Delphi have been a part of this community for decades. Let's keep 'em here for at least a few more.