Officials with Alstom announced Friday afternoon that market conditions have shifted—they aren't getting as many orders for nuclear equipment—so they must restructure, which includes 80 layoffs.
"The focus is on the future and how can we make this factory as competitive as possible going forward," Tim Brown, company spokesman, said Friday.
Inaugurated in June 2010, Alstom’s Chattanooga power system's manufacturing facility provides new and retrofit equipment for nuclear, steam, gas and hydroelectric power plants.
When Alstom opened, it was to meet the demand for either new or refurbished nuclear power plants in the United States.
But market factors, such as the Fukushima disaster and the growing availability of shale gas in the United States, have caused the market to shift away from nuclear.
"The factory was designed to be flexible," Brown said. "By restructuring, we see ourselves both as meeting the current market demands and the nuclear market demands if and when it revives."
A range of positions will be impacted, and a new leader—Brad Vandehei—will now head up the newly restructured factory. Brown said that Vandehei has been with the company in another capacity until now.
Leaders had a meeting with all the employees at 10 a.m. Friday and continued to meet with those affected by the restructuring individually throughout the day, Brown said.
After the layoffs, there will be 460 employees at Alstom.
Employees will be getting a severance package—which Brown declined to give details about—and help finding other positions inside or outside the company, Brown said.
Alstom received state and local tax incentives when it came to Chattanooga, and Brown said that the company is still in compliance of the requirements for those incentives. Officials will continue to work with area leaders to make sure they continue to meet the standards.
No one will leave before May, and the layoffs will continue gradually through September.
Brown said the decision to make the layoffs was difficult.
"We will do everything we can to support the people [who are] leaving," Brown said.
Updated @ 4:02 p.m. on 3/8/13 to add more information.