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This SBJ photo from Nov. 21, 1983, shows a full lot of cars as laid-off Zenith workers returned to work. In 1991, Zenith sent 1,500 local jobs to Mexico.
This SBJ photo from Nov. 21, 1983, shows a full lot of cars as laid-off Zenith workers returned to work. In 1991, Zenith sent 1,500 local jobs to Mexico.

No. 6 Zenith closing

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Zenith was one of the original post-World War II factories to open in Springfield and its closing in the 1990s did more than ship 1,500 workers to Mexico in 1992. For many, it ended a way of life.

The local plant was Zenith’s last facility in the United States, and even though Zenith had a few jobs in Springfield as late as 1994, and the decision to ship those jobs abroad resulted in the largest layoff in Springfield’s history.

Bass Pro Shops eventually bought the 2-million-square-foot building and converted the property into what is now Sportsman’s Park, a sprawling corporate headquarters for the outdoor goods retailer.

The plant’s closing prompted two positive steps in the Springfield business scene: the formation of Partnership Industrial Center, a master-planned industrial park in northeast Springfield and increased  training available at Ozarks Technical Community College, which at the time was in its infancy.

Zenith – maker of the first portable radio and the first TV remote control – is now a subsidiary of South Korea’s LG Electronics. LGE purchased a majority share in the company in 1995 and the rest in 1999 following Zenith’s fall into bankruptcy.

See the full list of pivotal points chosen by the Springfield Business Journal here.
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