- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) - A plant in Fort Smith that makes residential heating and cooling equipment is set to shut down this year, leaving 250 employees out of work.

Trane announced Monday that it is shifting production of its residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning manufacturing from Fort Smith to plants in Lynn Haven, Florida; Columbia, South Carolina; Vidalia, Georgia; and Tyler, Texas.

A company spokesman said the company will help employees by providing job-search assistance and will host a job fair for the employees at the Fort Smith plant.

Trane will still operate its plant in Fort Smith that makes HVAC equipment for commercial use.

On Monday, Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders said that he hadn’t received notice from Trane about the job losses, but was told about the plant closing.

Companies with more than 100 employees are required to notify the local government of a “mass layoff,” according to the federal Worker Adjustment and Restraining Notification Act.

“It will have a negative impact, but we’ve been able to overcome disappointments like this over the years, and I’m confident we’ll proceed,” Sanders said. “We do have some plants that are hiring in Fort Smith. That’s good news, and the fact they’re going to keep one portion of their operation going here.”

Trane is owned by Ingersoll Rand. A company spokeswoman said the transfer of work from the residential plant will occur in phases and is expected to be complete by this summer.

In 2016, manufacturing accounted for 15 percent of the nonfarm employment in the area, according to Deck.

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