BENNINGTON — With a two-paragraph note Thursday afternoon, a major Bennington employer for decades — Energizer — confirmed that the local factory will close.
"This morning we announced the closure of our Energizer specialty battery manufacturing plant in Bennington, Vermont, to move to our facility in Portage, Wisconsin," Marcus K. Boolish, the director of government affairs for Energizer Brands, said in an email to Sen. Dick Sears. "On behalf of Energizer and the years of productive engagement we have had with you and your office, we wanted to send you a personal note to notify you of the closure."
Boolish added, "Our recent battery and lights acquisition has transformed the size of our business. We are now the world's largest manufacturer and distributor of batteries and portable lights. In order to be successful as a larger company, we are making significant investments to better utilize our existing manufacturing facilities, reduce complexity in our operations, and enhance service to our customers."
Sears, fellow Bennnington County Sen. Brian Campion, and state Rep. Timothy Corcoran II issued a joint statement on the closure Thursday evening:
"We have reached out to the governor's office regarding this situation, and suspect more information will be made available in the coming days. We hope that there might still be an opportunity to keep Energizer here. Senator Sears reached out to the company today to see if this might be a possibility. In meantime, we are prepared to work with our economic development partners to make certain that those employees that will be looking for new work, receive as much assistance as needed."
In a subsequent email, Sears said, "I would add that I find it disappointing that as far as I know no warning was given to either the [Scott] administration or members of the delegation before the decision was made."
The town also was notified Thursday afternoon, said Select Board Chairman Donald Campbell, who added that Town Manager Stuart Hurd is expected to speak to the plant manager Friday.
"Bennington and Energizer have had a great relationship for decades, so being caught in the pincers of global economics is extremely sad news for our community," Campbell said. "The Select Board would surely agree, we are most concerned for our people who have worked there, and we intend to marshal every appropriate resource to help them transition."
No further details were released by the company, and it was unclear Thursday evening how many workers the local plant on Gage Street currently employees.
The company's factory complex on Gage and Scott streets is valued for tax purposes at $3.291 million, according to the preliminary 2019 Bennington grand list.
This story will be updated.