By Howard Packowitz
LEROY – The mayor of McLean County’s third largest city urged the public Wednesday night to show caring and compassion for the dozens of people who lost their jobs earlier in the day at the DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred plant.
LeRoy Mayor Steve Dean issued a statement expressing his “shock and sadness” over the “unforeseen and immediate” closure of the soybean production plant, owned by Corteva Agriscience.
It’s one of LeRoy’s largest employers. In an email sent to WJBC, parent company spokesperson Gregg Schmidt said the firm identified the LeRoy facility as an area for consolidation.
“Creating a strong independent agriculture company requires that we establish a streamlined, efficient, built-for-purpose production footprint,” said Schmidt.
“Upon further evaluation of our North America network, we identified an area we could consolidate, which lead to the closing of the LeRoy, Illinois production location,” Schmidt’s statement said.
Mayor Dean said Pioneer has “long been an outstanding corporate citizen of our community, and has provided not only employment for many residents, but as participants and donors for many community events and activities.”
The mayor added, “They have been generous to the city, by providing several grants for our police department and other community groups.”
“I thank them for the difference they have made.”
“That said, my heart goes out to all the employees who were dealt a serious blow this morning,” Mayor Dean said.
“I’m sure this was a business decision by the owning corporation, and such decisions may help the bottom line, but cause untold stress for many individuals and families. For this, I express my sadness and regret, and promise you that the city will do whatever we can to protect and promote the best interests of our citizens, our corporate partners, and our community,” the mayor said.
“To all the employees who call LeRoy home, I extend my best thoughts and wishes as you deal with this situation. I wish you the best. I know that sounds like a hollow wish, but I mean it most sincerely,” Mayor Dean said.
Howard Packowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org