Update (January 21, 2023): While a BorgWarner spokesman cited below initially stated that the consolidation and closure plan would be complete by the third quarter of 2023, another official, Michelle Collins, corrected that timeline after the release. She said they plan to have the closure complete by Q4 2024, which will allow the facility to stay a full year longer.
Original story (January 20, 2023):
ITHACA, NY—One of Tompkins County’s largest job providers is significantly reducing its on-site workforce, The Ithaca Voice has confirmed. Over the next two years, automaker BorgWarner will close one of its two plants on its Warren Road campus near the border between the city of Lansing and Ithaca.
The locking system is used for valve train production. A technical center and another plant at the chain production site will remain in operation, but numerous jobs could be affected by the decision.
“The company has made the decision to consolidate the valve train manufacturing facility into another existing BorgWarner facility and to close the valve train technical research center on its Ithaca, NY campus,” said Alexis Grimshaw, the company’s public relations specialist. “BorgWarner plans to continue investing in manufacturing in New York and continuing to invest in the United States to bring successful mobility innovations to market.”
Grimshaw said the consolidation and closure “is due to be completed by [Q4 2024].” BorgWarner currently has approximately 1,500 employees in Tompkins County, the third largest employment agency in the county behind Cornell University and Ithaca College. The facility’s presence in Tompkins County dates back to the Morse Chain Company, which was founded in Trumansburg in the late 19th century. The company joined BorgWarner in the 1920s and has had a presence in the region ever since.
Grimshaw said the company has already announced its intention to “make market-focused adjustments to adjust its cost structure to remain competitive in the current environment, including restructuring, closing or consolidating manufacturing and/or engineering centers in all major geographies.” and that this was a result of that strategy.
Tompkins County Legislature Mike Sigler and Ithaca Area Executive Director for Economic Development Heather McDaniel both lamented the closure and job losses. The complete change involves the relocation of part of the operation to an existing facility in Mexico.
The final number of jobs affected is unknown, but McDaniel said it could be “up to a quarter of the employment base over the next two years,” although McDaniel says the number will likely be lower with retirements and normal turnover. The actual determination of the total number can take two years or more. Sigler said he was told about 280 jobs could be lost.
“Unfortunately, companies must make decisions that maintain their national or global competitiveness,” said McDaniel. “The reality is they haven’t been able to keep that part of the business competitive [New York State]. We can’t just spend money to make them profitable, they had to make some decisions.”
Notifying employees of this decision began this week. Grimshaw said the company is “committed to ensuring the smoothest possible transition for all affected employees, while continuing to support our customers and suppliers over the coming months.”
McDaniel said she coordinated with New York State and the federal government about incentive options to keep the plant closure open, but to no avail.
“It’s important to look at the positive side,” McDaniel said. “It’s negative in that jobs are lost, but over the long term it makes some of their business far more competitive. We are pleased to have BorgWarner as one of our largest employers in Tompkins County, and we will continue to work with them to help them make their businesses profitable here.”