FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The last remaining employees at the sprawling Navistar campus on the city’s far-east side will lose their jobs this week as the truck and engine maker finalizes its years-long move out of the area.
In May, Navistar opened a proving grounds and test track facility in New Carlisle, Indiana, which sits about 90 miles from the company’s new headquarters in Lisle, Illinois. That resulted in the company’s decision to “phase down” operations at the Fort Wayne test track off Oxford Street according to Navistar spokesman Steve Schrier.
The phase down of those test operations will conclude this week, Schrier said, impacting some 15 employees.
Those employees will be offered contractual severance benefits, Schrier said.
Rick Boggs is one of the final 15 Navistar employees in Fort Wayne. He has tested trucks on the track for 17 years.
“Of course I’m disappointed because I would like to finish my retirement years out here,” Boggs told NewsChannel 15. “Now, I’m going to be a 60-year-old diesel mechanic out looking for work.”
Navistar’s decision to move the testing operations marks the official end of an era for what was once a huge International Harvester Campus. According to newspaper archives, the company’s employment in Fort Wayne went from 10,500 jobs in 1979 to 4,600 in July of 1982. Assembly plants closed, jobs moved to Springfield, Ohio, and then more layoffs came to area employees who actually made the commute.
Navistar announced in 2010 it would move its headquarters from Fort Wayne to Illinois, costing the local workforce 1,400 jobs and Navistar tens of millions of dollars in moving and consolidation costs. After the company moved the brunt of its operations, only a handful of employees remained to operate the test track.
Schrier said the 15 workers will be offered severance packages. Friday is the last day the majority of the employees will be at the track.
Navistar plans to sell the 1.2 mile track in southeast Fort Wayne, but at this point, no word on its future plans.