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Company was required to maintain current workforce to earn $300,000 in incentives from county

Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 13, 2013 at 02:57 PM

To earn the $300,000 of incentives promised by the county, Sparton Corp. agreed to add 100 more jobs during the next two years.

Now it must add 114.

The company confirmed Tuesday afternoon it had eliminated 14 assembly and manufacturing support jobs at the Brooksville facility.

Sparton had reached an agreement in March with the Hernando County Office of Business Development to grow its workforce to more than 300 employees by 2011.

Some of the layoffs included some who had been with the company for more than 25 years.

"It's the net jobs that we're going to look at," said Mike McHugh, the director of the Office of Business Development. "We will look at the jobs that were here before the agreement ... Those jobs must be maintained."

A Sparton spokeswoman in Auburn Hills, Mich., was unaware of the layoffs until a reporter contacted her by phone Tuesday morning.

"While the layoff is unfortunate and was an extremely difficult decision, a workforce adjustment to some level was anticipated once the consolidations of Sparton's (Michigan) and London facilities were announced," one company executive said in an e-mail to Hernando Today. "Once the aerospace market softening was factored in, the number of employees to be impacted was thus confirmed over the past few weeks."

According to the same e-mail, the information about the pending layoffs was included in the incentive package with the county. Executives are aware that an additional 14 positions need to be filled in addition to the 100 they promised back in March.

In June, Sparton announced it had signed a lease for a building in Schaumburg, Ill. That meant it would close its corporate headquarters in Jackson, Mich., and relocate to the Chicago suburb by the end of the month.

The manufacturing facility in Jackson also closed.

Sparton also has a manufacturing facility in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

One of the 14 laid off employees was Dave Parker, who was employed at the Brooksville facility for 13 years. He was not offered severance pay.

"We all pretty much knew it was coming," said Parker, who was a technician in the company's calibration lab.

"As soon as I pulled up this morning, I noticed the parking lot was way emptier than normal," he said. "I knew something was going on."

Sparton, which is located at 30167 Power Line Road, does business in the medical industry, electronic manufacturing and government defense.

The county has promised $300,000 in incentives to be paid to Sparton during a five-year period, but only if it retains its current workforce and increases it by another 100 people, McHugh said.

If it falls just one job short of its agreement, it still would lose all of its incentives, according to the Office of Business Development.

McHugh conceded the recent developments in the Midwest could have caused the company to "change its mix," in Brooksville.

"With a company like theirs that relies on contracts, there are going to be ups and downs," he said. "Just like with any company, there will be people who come and go."


Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5283 or wholt@hernandotoday.com.

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