BRIGHAM CITY — ATK Aerospace Systems laid off about 100 employees Wednesday. The job cuts are having a big effect on the whole town.
Of the 100 employees laid off, 28 volunteered, five were transferred to other divisions and 11 of those employees are from out of state. The layoffs are the result of the end of the space shuttle program.
“It’s never easy. It’s always difficult. These people are very talented, very dedicated individuals that have contributed to America’s space program,” ATK spokeswoman Trina Patterson said.
At the height of the space shuttle program in the 1990s, 9,000 people worked for ATK in Utah. The company cut more than 800 jobs when the shuttle program started winding down in 2009. Last year, the layoffs continued with almost 1,100 more jobs slashed. With Wednesday’s cuts, a total of 2,170 jobs have been lost in just two years.
Each wave of layoffs takes a toll on the town’s local economy.
“It’s sad to see our friends and neighbors leave,” Brigham City resident Sandy Beukers said. “They’re good, good people, and (they have) kids at school. They’re parents out of work. It’s hard. It breaks my heart.”
Chuck Kellogg worked at ATK for 24 years. “Over time, they don’t get any more good contracts, things kept going downhill and pretty soon they’re laying people off,” he said. “They’ve never recovered since they’ve had the first layoffs.”
They layoff is also have an impact on the local grocery store. “It’s a ripple-down effect,” Kent’s Market store manager Lance Sitaway said. “There’s less money flowing through the economy, and it hurts everybody, hurts us here at the grocery store.”
ATK managers said they were hopeful that this will mark the end of their workforce cuts, but with a space program that's drastically changing it's hard to say for sure.
“We’re continuing to move forward and just making sure that we keep the progress that we’ve done in the past,” Patterson said.
ATK is developing a new five-segment rocket booster for our nation's future space program. It hopes to test those in a couple of months.