Rapid Response not only works with employees who plan to file for unemployment, but its career counselors also offer résumé development assistance. Plans are also under way to connect A.J. Wright employees with local companies that are hiring, Kroeger said.
Since the December announcement of the closing, TJX has informed South Bend city officials that it plans to hire a real estate firm and either lease or sell the property and the 540,000-square-foot building located on the site.
Initially, South Bend city officials said they were unsure whether TJX might retain ownership of the building to utilize in the future. The business opened in 2004.
“We’re working to get two local companies through (A.J. Wright) in the next couple of weeks. The company is still operating, so it’s a little bit difficult right now, but we’ll make sure this happens,” said Don Inks, South Bend’s economic development director.
The companies interested in walk-throughs are expanding from other local facilities the companies have outgrown, Inks said.
Three local companies also recently toured the west-side Robert Bosch Corp. complex. Bosch announced in November that it will close its Bendix Drive operation by the end of 2011, eliminating about 250 local jobs.
This week, TJX issued the following statement when asked about current employment and the wind-down of operations at the South Bend distribution center.
“A lot of factors will go into the determination of the Distribution Center’s last day of operation,” a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail. “While that date could be different than the date through which employees will be paid, we anticipate closing down operations over the next several weeks. We will honor our obligation to pay employees through February 8, 2011, in any event.”
A.J. Wright employees are represented by the Chicago & Midwest Regional Joint Board, an affiliate of Workers United, based in Chicago. Attempts to reach the Indianapolis-based union director today were unsuccessful.
TJX Companies, based in Framingham, Mass., said it will shutter the A.J. Wright division to focus on its more profitable retail brands like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.
Both A.J. Wright distribution centers, including a facility in Fall River, Mass., as well as the one in South Bend, will close as well as the division headquarters and certain regional office.
On Thursday, the Massachusetts Rapid Response Committee approved a $700,000 emergency grant to aid the more than 800 employees affected by the Fall River A.J. Wright distribution center closing.
The funding will be distributed to local career centers to provide staffing to offer workers job intensive training programs, including English language proficiency classes, state officials said.