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Lake County, Illinois Worried About Impact Of Abbott Layoffs

Lake County Worried About Impact Of Abbott Layoffs [Chicago Tribune]

From Chicago Tribune (IL) (January 27, 2011)

Jan. 27--Lake County officials are bracing for the loss of hundreds of jobs at Abbott Laboratories’ sprawling campus near North Chicago.

Abbott announced Wednesday that it would eliminate 1,900 U.S. jobs of its estimated 90,000 employees worldwide. About 1,000 will be in Illinois, and the majority will come from Lake County, where the company is the second-largest employer, with about 15,700 workers, according to statistics compiled by Lake County Partners, a nonprofit economic development group.

"I think it’s just devastating to our local economy and the families involved," said Carol Calabresa, a Lake County Board member who represents District 15, which covers Libertyville, Mundelein and Vernon Hills. "That’s what’s tragic."

Steve Anderson, CEO of Lake County Partners, said Abbott officials contacted him Wednesday morning about the layoffs. Anderson said Lake County Partners is working with Abbott, which is a member of his group, and the Illinois Workforce Investment Board to provide assistance to workers who will be losing their jobs.

"We’ll have someone out there on site who can begin working with the employees, making sure they’ll get support," Anderson said. "Our task is really to identify ways to deal with the aftermath."

Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman was "upset, disturbed and alarmed" by the news.

"We look at the employees as part of our family, and Abbott has been a great corporate neighbor," he said. "It is a great concern whenever we lose jobs. Part of our job is to create jobs and retain jobs. We will try our darnedest to help place these people in new jobs."

The loss of jobs in the area will affect the county on a number of levels, Stolman said.

"Our job is basically to keep fiscal responsibility on the budget," he said. "Obviously, this is going to have an impact. You have to ask, ‘How are these people going to keep their houses? How are they going to pay taxes and take care of their kids?’"

Horacio Lopez, chairman of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, fears how the job cuts will affect local businesses.

"It will not be a trickle down; it will be a domino affect," he said. "This news doesn’t bode well for here in northwest Illinois."

Lopez said the Chamber of Commerce will need to work harder to provide educational seminars to its members and future members to help them "try to stay ahead of the game."

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Posted: January 2011