Ford Cancels Contract

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Choctaw Chief Phillip Martin revealed the contract cancellation by Ford Motor Company, effective at the end of June.

"With the oncoming of NAFTA that will decide to give these big companies off shore and China and places like that, because of low wages. So Ford Motor Company is no different. They decided that they want to go overseas so they decided to close us down. Simple as that," Martin said.

Chief Martin indicated the tribe has wasted no time in seeking a replacement.

"We've got a 42,000 square foot building there. It's not going to be sitting vacant," said Martin. "We'll either locate a new business or we'll put in something in there that's worthwhile to the community. Our aim is to work for higher tech, not the low tech manufacturing that we've been having in the past because it doesn't pay much and people want to make better income than a low wage."

Choctaw Electronics employed 250 people at its peak and made as many as six million speakers a year for Ford.

Bob DePerro, President and CEO of Choctaw Electronics, said there have been negotiations with a prospective tenant.

"I would like to think we'll be ready to have a letter of intent done in the next two to four weeks. The building will probably be occupied in the next 60 days. That's kind of the time frame we're looking at and, yes, there will definitely be retraining for the employees. Certainly it's going to be another level of technology we'll need to train for," DePerro said.

He added that he anticipates the new tenant will employ about 100 workers.