Columbus-based Cummins announced Wednesday it would bring back 270 workers to build engines for 2010 Dodge Ram trucks. The workers will comprise a second shift that will operate until the end of the year. Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong says call backs are always welcome, but he’s cautious to say it indicates a turnaround in the local economy.
“Well I could be dishonest and say, ‘Oh yeah, it’s all going to be turning around.’ But I still hesitate to say that. I see some signs of positive. But I’m just holding my breath because it seems as though that could change within a matter of seconds. But it seems the economy is picking maybe, just maybe a little bit. But it will also slide back a little bit then go forward,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong says he predicts it’ll take 18 months to two and a half years before the economy in Columbus is back to the point before the recession began. Currently the city sports an eight-point-nine percent unemployment rate. He says that number should be more like two-point-five percent and had been one-point-nine percent as recently as 2006. One job opening in the city’s parks department solicited hundreds of applications recently. But the city has also laid off more than 60 employees over the past year. Armstrong says he’s starting to see and hear to effects of having nearly one in ten in his city without a job.
“People, I have feelings, too. I’m not a mean old guy. But it hurts me when I see this out there. Because we want to put these people back to work,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong recently completed an economic development trip to China where he says he spoke with more than 25 companies. He says some representatives, including some from Cummins subsidiaries, will visit the city within the month. Cummin’s new shift on the Dodge Ram engines will begin October 19th. After the recall, Cummins will employ around 600 hourly workers at the plant.