At the end of last month, the folks in Bend (well, those of them who hadn't been paying attention) were stunned by the news that Cessna was closing its manufacturing plant here and laying off its last 200 workers.
Turns out, though, that Cessna had been planning to close the Bend plant all along. At least that's how The Eye reads the comment by Cessna spokesman Doug Oliver in yesterday's Bulletin.
Oliver told Bulletin reporter Keith Chu that Cessna already was shifting some of the manufacturing to Chihuahua, Mexico, and would have moved it all there if the drop in business because of the recession hadn't made it necessary to shut down entirely.
"It was in the process of happening when the decision was made to close plant," Oliver said. "That was always the plan - to move work where we had facilities to better do the work."
Not to mention workers to do it more cheaply.
Needless to say, although it "was always the plan" to ship Bend's jobs south of the border, Cessna officials didn't say anything about it when they talked the city into spending $1.5 million on an airport expansion or when they were demanding that it spend another bundle on a tower for the airport. (The city would've done it, too, if the move hadn't been blocked by a 2-1 vote of the Deschutes County Commission. Thank you, Commissioners Dennis Luke and Tammy Baney.)
The Cessna story beautifully illustrates how a big corporation can blow into a town and play the local yokels for suckers - and why it's important to include clawback provisions in any future contracts with companies that come here waving promises of family-wage jobs in return for tax breaks and other goodies.