COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. – A freight car manufacturing facility in Cherokee will permanently close, FreightCar America confirmed Thursday.
The Shoals facility will remain open and in full produciton through the end of the year to fulfill its 2020 order commitments.
FCA officials said the difficult decision comes at a time of historically low demand for new freight cars coupled with the realities of COVID-19.
“Our vision was to maintain a permanent presence in Shoals. However, with the depressed rail car market and the devastating impact and ongoing threat of COVID-19, we were left with no choice,” said Jim Meyer, President and Chief Executive Officer of FreightCar America. “Please know we will focus on our people and do our absolute best to take care of them and our customers as we move through this unfortunate reality together.”
Employee layoffs will happen in stages between November 9, through February 28, 2021, by which time all layoffs are expected to be complete. The majority of layoffs will happen in December.
FCA will offer affected employees a bonus payment in return for staying until their assigned completion date.
Company officials stated they will be coordinating with the state and several other companies to ensure these employees are being provided the best possible job transition assistance and opportunities.
FreightCar America plans to continue operations and production at their other facilities.