Job loss in Statesville blamed on bad housing market, mortgage crisis

STATESVILLE, NC  (WBTV) Kohler opened in Statesville under the name Canac just three years ago, now the company president says it is shutting down because of a weak housing market and a surge in the cost of the materials used to make the company's kitchen cabinetry. Many worry that the uncertainty in the economy and housing market could lead to more such closures.

If homebuyers can't get mortgages, they can't buy houses, and if houses aren't selling, neither are the cabinets made by Canac. Workers lose their jobs, it's a downward spiral.

"It hurts people to take a step to buy a new home because they see companies closing right and left and no job security, it's pretty hard on the housing industry," said construction worker Chris Stricklin.

Michael LeVan is building new homes in Statesville. His company has been doing pretty well in a down market. Though he admits many in the business are struggling.

He says: "In general the housing market is soft right now, there are buyers out there looking to buy, but it's not as wide open as it used to be."

LeVan says the market needs stability, and that could be accomplished with a bail out plan.

"We don't know, it's probably a step in the right direction, we 've got to do something that's for sure," he added.

While this house has some potential buyers, one across the street has been empty for more than a year. Given  that and 550 jobs lost at Kohler, LeVan says hope is the safest commodity.

"Yeah, just wait and see and hope for the best I guess."

LeVan has reason for optimism, he says our area really hasn't suffered these inflated housing prices like some areas across the country, still he says he needs that market stability to make his business grow.

Canac is offering severance packages to its workers.  Two other plants, one in Canada and one in Wisconsin, are also closing.