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Benchmark closing: Area organizations look for solutions

By Staff | Feb 20, 2015

When the Benchmark Electronics plant in Dunseith announced earlier this month that it planned to close, the news sent shock waves through several nearby communities.

In Pierce County nearly 20 families are directly affected, but the shutdown will be felt by every business, school, church or other organization in the area according to both the City of Rugby Job Development Authority and the Rugby Area Chamber of Commerce.

Shelley Block, executive director of the chamber says they have discussed the closure with the JDA.

“We are concerned about individuals who will be losing their jobs, and will do anything we can to help,” she said.

According to Block, there is no business in Rugby that has the kind of specialized electronics jobs that Benchmark had so there would be no easy transition for the employees. But, she added, the chamber is always looking for new businesses and would certainly help in recruiting a similar company.

And, Block continued, with the high skill level of the employees, there may be other jobs out there they had never considered taking, but at which they would excel.

The JDA is more involved with the business aspect of the closure and the resulting economic impact on area communities, but they too are concerned about the welfare of the soon-to-be unemployed workers.

“So far we’ve reached out and talked to the HR person at Benchmark,” said SyAnn Graber, JDA director. “We’ve told her ‘We’re here.’ It’s our understanding the City of Dunseith and the tribe (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) are both working to find something to come into the building. They want to utilize all their good employees.”

The chamber and the JDA boards will continue to search for a positive outcome for the Benchmark workforce and the surrounding towns.

Graber said looking for new businesses to come to the area is a continuous process for the JDA and “there are companies that are looking for places, but whether the location meets their criteria, I don’t know.”

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