Able Industries in Visalia is downsizing

VISALIA

Able Industries has been in the 85-thousand square foot facility for eleven years, but now with a large cut in funding from the state, they just can't afford to stay here anymore.

Able Industries' walls are filled with pictures of local disabled residents, happy at work. The company teaches Tulare County residents with disabilities, life and job skills and also helps them find jobs.

Soon these workstations will be moving, now that the state has approved a 17% reduction in funding to the company.

Wende Leigh Ayers said, "It will help offset by reducing expenses hopefully we're trying to make a move to a smaller facility that directly meets the current needs."

The total loss in funding comes out to nearly $400-thousand. Able Industries uses the money to train more than one-hundred disabled west Tulare County residents. Budget cuts over the last three years have already forced the company to layoff a number of workers. Executive Director Wende Leigh Ayers is hoping that's not the case this year. "Any cuts I make in staffing at this time will indeed effect how many people we can serve which doesn't solve our problem it just reduces our revenue more."

Ayers says the company has already seen a big reduction in the number of people they train. In 2000, the company served 215 disabled residents. Now they serve 110. Many of the workers are responsible for maintaining Visalia's city parks.

Ricardo Noguera said, "I would say they're not only an important entity here but a major employer of a population of folks that would probably not able to find jobs elsewhere."

City Economic Development Director Ricardo Noguera hopes Able Industries will be able to find another location in Visalia, and not leave town. "I think it's tragic I think it's very sad because an organization that plays an important role in the community is basically being impacted by the state crisis."

Able Industries is looking to downsize to a 30,000 square foot facility, nearly one-third the size of this one.

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