PITTSFIELD — United Technologies Corp. Fire and Security announced Tuesday that it will close its plant in town and the more than 300 jobs from the factory will be shipped to three of the company’s other plants.
Town Manager Kathryn Ruth confirmed the closing Tuesday night, calling it “unfortunate news.” The factory will be shuttered March 1, 2015, she said.
“We were in contact with UTC officials to work with them in any way possible to keep the plant open,” Ruth said Tuesday at a Town Council meeting. “We’ve been advised the closure is due to the need of UTC to reduce floor space. It’s a decision of the company and not due to the plant, the employees or the town.”
Employees found out about the closing at 1:30 Tuesday afternoon. They will begin to be phased out this fall.
“This will be a challenge,” Ruth said, “but with challenges come opportunities.”
About 25 percent of people employed at UTC are from Pittsfield, Ruth said, while the remaining 75 percent range from communities from Waterville to Bangor.
“This is a regional facility, and it will affect the whole region,” she said.
Pittsfield Mayor Gary Jordan said he received a letter from the company saying there will be 100 jobs available for employees willing to relocate.
A spokesman for Edwards, the division of United Technologies that operates in Pittsfield, confirmed the relocation offer and said those jobs will be at the company’s Lincolnton, N.C., plant.
The Pittsfield manufacturing plant, which is beside the Sebasticook River, is the town’s second-largest employer, with about 300 employees, according to the town’s website. The plant was formerly General Electric Security until United Technologies bought it in 2010. The largest employer, Cianbro, employs 360 people in Pittsfield.
United Technologies issued a statement Tuesday night saying that the move is part of the company’s effort to “ensure continued competitiveness.” Work being done in Pittsfield will be moved to Lincolnton, Mexico and China, which have similar operations, spokeswoman Ashley Barrie said via email.
“We are working closely with the team at Pittsfield to ensure this reorganization is handled as best possible,” she said.
The company will hold meetings with the employees “to review options, including consideration for open positions at other facilities and severance benefits.”
She said those benefits include placement assistance and continued access to UTC’s Employee Scholar Program, under which qualified employees can get tuition, books and fees paid for up to four years.
United Technologies, based in Farmington, Conn., provides technology products and services to the global building and aerospace industries, specializing in fire security. Barrie said the Pittsfield plant “manufactures fire and security products such as commercial fire products from our Edwards brand, including detectors, fire panels and signaling equipment.”
The timing of the announcement of the closure was serendipitous, as the Town Council announced a regional job fair scheduled for 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. May 14 at Warsaw Middle School. Businesses expected to attend include the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Homecare for Maine in Farmingdale, Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan and T-Mobile.
When United Technologies bought the plant in 2010, a spokesman for UTC declined to comment on potential effects the purchase had on the Pittsfield plant, which had laid off 110 workers a year earlier when it was owned by GE Security.
General Electric Co. bought the plant in 2005, when it bought SPX Corp., owner of Edwards Systems Technology, for nearly $1.4 billion. The Pittsfield plant opened in 1956.