SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- It's been a hard landing for folks in West Plains and Houston this week. Air Evac Lifeteam is re-locating nearly two-hundred jobs. 120 management jobs will move from West Plains to the St. Louis area, and another 30 to Texas. Also, the Air Evac business center in Houston will be transferred to West Plains.
The 45 employees at Air Evac in Houston found out Wednesday their jobs are moving to West Plains. If they want to keep their jobs, they'll have to make the commute.
Air Evac in West Plains will no longer be the company's headquarters. And in Houston, the facility that only opened in April 2009 will soon be empty.
"No idea anything was going to happen until the day they announced it," says Tim Stow. His wife Sandy has worked in the Air Evac Houston office for three years. "She likes her work really well, and it's close for us, because we live here in town and everything. So this is going to be kind of rough," Stow says.
To hang onto the job though, he says Sandy will make the 50 mile commute. "There's nothing around here work wise, and that's a good job, and if you got to drive an extra 40 or 50 miles, I mean it's more wear and tear on the car and more gas, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do," Stow says.
City officials understand that's what Air Evac did too. Houston Mayor Don Tottingham says, "I know that was a corporate decision they had to make in their best interests, and I appreciate the fact that they have the jobs here, and I appreciate the fact that they allowed those employees to relocate and work down there while they live here in our community."
Houston leaders believe the building remodeled especially for Air Evac will serve another company well.
"I think for a company to come in and see how nice it is and that it's just move-in ready; we're really looking forward to that opportunity," says Velena Ingram, Executive Director of the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce.
While they're sorry to see Air Evac go, folks in Houston are landing on their feet. "Oh, we'll make it. We always do. In a small town, everybody helps everybody," Stow says.
Air Evac plans to have moved 150 jobs from West Plains to O'Fallon and Texas by November. The timeline for here in Houston isn't set in stone, but they hope to have everyone here moved to West Plains by the end of the year.