Federal Budget Cuts Trickle-Down To Industries Of The Blind In Greensboro

10:28 PM, Apr 9, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- Greensboro is seeing the trickle-down effect from Sequestration last month.

The majority of us wouldn't have known the government cut two percent of the federal budget, if we weren't told so.

However, it's directly affected about 40 people in the Triad.

Greensboro's Industries for the Blind gets 98 percent of it's business from the government.

Many of its contracts are with the U.S. Department of Defense, so when the military scaled back on orders to reduce costs, Greensboro Industries for the Blind had to scale back too.

On Thursday, they laid off about 40 employees.

"We went down to four days a week, trying to keep as many people employed as possible, just slowing everything down. But it was getting to the point where there's just no work," said David LoPresti, President of Greensboro Industries for the Blind.

Industries for the Blind in Greensboro typically employees 215 people.

They work on everything from special shirts and pants for the military, to pens.

But LoPresti said the D.O.D. dropped their contract to make cargo nets. They were slow to re-new their contract for special wicking t-shirts. And even though they have a contract to make special ballistic pads for combat helmets, the military hasn't told them yet how many they want them to produce, so they can't order materials.

Unfortunately, they can't starting bringing employees back on board until they do.

"We are here to provide employment. That's our goal. That's our mission. That's what we do. The other piece that I think is difficult is, these are taxpayers. And when they're not working here, they're also not paying taxes to the government," said LoPresti.

At Industries of the Blind, 75 percent of the employees are legally blind. But they sew, operate machines, and do jobs they might struggle to find somewhere else.

But there is better news. LoPresti said they have one new t-shirt contract in hand, which could employ as many as 34 people.

They also have a new a jersey contract that would require another three or four people.

Both of the new contracts will start in July, but they could start bringing employees back on as early as June.

We asked Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind if they've lost contracts too.

An official told us they lost one government contract, but they got two new contracts, so they haven't had to lay off any employees.

WFMY News 2

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