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Our opinion: Another casualty of COVID-19

About 300 Warren County residents find found themselves on the receiving end of news we all thought may be coming but kept hoping would never arrive.

Last week, employees of the BLST Operating Co. notified employees at the Irvine Distribution Center that the local center is closing and moving to Georgia by the end of April. Such a decision has been a concern ever since Bluestem Brands announced a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing back in the spring, but area residents held out some hope that the acquisition of Bluestem Brands by its lenders, led by Cerberus Capital Management as part of a debt for equity swap. A new name –BLST Operating Company LLC — gave the appearance that things may have stabilized.

Unfortunately, that isn’t so.

In a community struggling to grow, the news of another familiar name closing part of its operation hits hard, particularly during the already uncertain times driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic development is difficult right now, which is not what some 300 area residents want to hear.

If ever there was a time to dig in our heels and scratch and claw for something family-sustaining to replace the jobs from the Irving Distribution Center, this is it.

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