ConAgra executives close up shop after 93 years in big “O”

collettegillaspie & elsiestormberg

Screen shot 2015-10-31 at 1.08.56 PMNinety-three years plus the elimination of 1,300 jobs equals ConAgra Food Incorporated’s economic proverbial slap across the face of Omaha. On Oct. 1, 2015, ConAgra announced its permanent move out of the Omaha area.

Since 1922, ConAgra Foods Inc. has resided in Omaha. Now, ConAgra will call Chicago its new executive home in the summer of 2016. A Fortune

500 Company, ConAgra was a crucial employer to the Omaha economy. Both Omaha and the Marian community will take the hit hard.  Many Marian families are now in a state of limbo.  Sophomore Sadie Stracke’s father worked at the 90th street location for almost 10 years in Customer Service. “I do not like this move and how families are going to be moved be- cause it separates from their town, and most of the workers didn’t think that ConAgra was going to be moved because it has always stayed in Omaha, it started here,” Stracke said.

graphics by elsie stormberg

graphics by elsie stormberg

Junior Tara Wanser’s older sister, Kristin Wanser ‘08, has worked for ConAgra for five years in finance. “It affects my sister, but we don’t know if she will have to move to Chi- cago yet,” Wanser said.

Freshman Emma Williams’ mother Amie Williams has worked for seven and a half years as a Consumer Affairs Specialist at ConAgra. “It’s kind of complicated for my family because my mom works in private brands.  We are just waiting to see what will happen,” Williams said.

Megan McKillip ’07, older sister of senior Molly McKillip and sophomore Maddie McKillip, is a financial analyst in inventory accounting at ConAgra. She, like many other employees, does not know the stability of her job. “Decisions are being made at such a high level. My coworkers and I do not know the stability of our jobs yet. Our group has been told that we will find out if we are still employed around Thanksgiving,” McKillip said.

As for the ConAgra atmosphere, McKillip said there is definitely some tension and stress.

If she were to be laid off, McKillip said that ConAgra at least has the decency to give its employees three weeks worth of pay to cover the tough transition. Other than that though, McKillip, like many other employees, may be forced to reenter the job market once again.

Luckily, there are other options. Considering the amount of workers being laid off, many companies are opening up positions in order to aid the unemployed. For example, Lincoln Financial has opened up a position for a senior project manager. Ruth Cook has worked at Lincoln for five years as a Director of the Group Protection Project Management Office.

“The first thing we did was try and find out what areas were going to close. We found out that project managers might be impacted. We had a position open up so that ConAgra em- ployees could apply to become a Senior Project Manager if they had the skills,” Cook said.

Internally, Cook has been contacted by a few people ask- ing for information about the new position.

“If I hear that they are not a Project Manager but they have other skill sets like a Business Analyst, I try to put them in touch with partner organizations who can help them. If they are interested, I share contact information with local resource venders so if they can not find a full time job they can find a part time job,” Cook said.

The upheaval of ConAgra’s departure has affected numerous Omaha families, but the community has come together to make the best of a difficult situation.

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