Norfolk Southern Corp. (NS), a prominent company in Virginia, recently announced that it would be closing its office building in Roanoke, VA, located at 110 Franklin Road SE, by the end of 2015.
The company dates back hundreds of years, and it has played a large role in building the rail lines that supported the economic development of Roanoke. It currently employs around 500 people living in and around Roanoke, and has provided valuable experience in marketing, information technology, accounting, and a variety of other job positions.
A representative for NS has stated that the company has not yet decided which positions will be moved to the corporate headquarters building in Norfolk, VA, and which positions will be moved to its operational headquarters in Atlanta, GA.
The 500 employees affected by the Roanoke location’s closing will be given the opportunity to relocate to one of the locations, depending on where their positions end up, if they so choose.
Although these 500 employees are just a small fraction of the estimated 43 million American workers who are forced to relocate each year in order to keep their jobs, community members have stated that NS’s decision to close the building will likely have a major “psychological and economic impact on Roanoke.”
Whether employees choose to leave the city or choose to leave the company (and stay in the city, unemployed), Roanoke County Economic Development Director, Jill Loope, has noted that “the impact results are large and they have a ripple effect throughout the community.”
Other community members are looking at the silver lining of the situation: that NS was once the largest employer for the city of Roanoke and that it provided hundreds of jobs for over 100 years, allowing the city to develop economically in many industries. Other analysts are admitting that, although the decision is a little too reminiscent of previous corporate building relocations that managed to cripple the city, it’s unlike that NS’s decision will have such serious and negative impacts as those previous companies.
According to the executives at Norfolk Southern, the decision to close Roanoke’s facility was not an easy one, but that it would ultimately benefit the company by allowing for “better communications, speedier decision-making, and more promotion opportunities for personnel.”