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Bobcat Troubles a Sign of the Times for North Dakota?

December 3, 2008

Bismarck, ND – Among nine midwestern states covered in a new survey, only North Dakota's economic index showed an improvement in November. However, there are clouds on the horizon. The positive news showed up in the Creighton Forecasting Group's November monthly survey of purchasing managers and business leaders, but Jeremy Bauer, president of the United Steelworkers Local 566 in Bismarck cautions that the state may see a reversal of fortune soon. He points to problems at the Bismarck Bobcat plant as a warning sign for other North Dakota workers.

"We're a lot more globally affected than a lot of the other things going on in North Dakota right now, so if things don't turn around, it could get ugly for a lot of people out there."

Bobcat, which makes skid steer loaders and other light construction equipment, earlier had announced a six-week shutdown at its Bismarck and Gwinner plants beginning December 15th. Bauer believes President-elect Obama’s plan for an economic stimulus that involves infrastructure rebuilding is just what is needed.

"Working on bridges and building roads and getting things back up to par; that would directly help Bobcat. We could hopefully sell some machines to people that are doing that work."

The company initially had offered 100 employees early retirement; now they have extended that offer to 50 more workers.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - ND