EUGENE, Ore. - Talks continue on a deal that could bring a shut down west Eugene factory back to life.
Since last year, the Hynix computer chip plant has stood silent. Now the Uni-Chem company from South Korea wants to buy the plant for a reported $50 million. Those talks are still going on.
Associated Press reports out of South Korea have made the deal sound as good as done, but a local Hynix official told KVAL News nothing is certain yet.
Lane County needs to be ready if and when the deal goes through.
"What we want to do is to be in a position where, if the deal goes through, we as a community are ready to help them move forward and get that plant up and running as soon as possible," said business recruiter Jack Roberts, director of the Lane Metro Partnership agency.
The shuttered plant would be used to make solar cells as part of Uni-Chem's new business. It could mean 1,000 new jobs to the labor market in Lane County.
"If a thousand jobs come to fruition, that's probably 25 percent of the jobs lost in manufacturing over the last year or two," said Chuck Forster, director of the Lane Workforce Partnership.
Forster said a large block of the former Hynix work force (500 to 600 employees) has production skills which are easily transferable to making solar cells.
"I would imagine that it would not take a significant amount of retraining but rather some short term skill upgrading for those individuals to position them for new employment," he said.
Jack Roberts points out though that the infusion of jobs would not signal the end of the local recession.
"No one should believe that any one company suddenly is going to end the recession or turn things around, but it definitely would be a step in the right direction," he said.
If this deal goes through between Hynix and Uni-Chem it would not be the first time a leather company morphed into the world of electronics.
"Tandy was a leather company that decided to form Radio Shack, so there is a precedent for the diversification of at least the leather industry," Roberts said.
He anticipates if a final contract is inked next month between Hynix and Uni-Chem, people could be hired on in late 2010.
Roberts said Eugene area construction crews would be hired to do much of the retrofitting of the plant, starting next year.