Indiana's oldest ethanol plant has shut down indefinitely.
New Energy Corp. President Russ Abarr said the plant shut down last week, resulting in the layoff of 40 employees.
"We've been looking at what we can do and trying to avoid it," Abarr said. "The decision to lay off long-standing, dedicated employees of New Energy was extremely difficult.
Abarr says an undetermined number of workers will stay on the job as the plant that opened in 1984 prepares to remain idle for at least several months.
Abarr says he believes the plant will reopen sometime in the future because of its proximity to corn supplies, the ethanol market, transportation infrastructure and the South Bend labor supply. He says the plant is for sale.
Abarr cites high corn prices, large ethanol inventories, lower gas prices and lower fuel demand as factors leading to the shutdown.
In June 2011, 30 workers were laid off in the only other workforce reduction in plant history.
Abarr said he is hopeful that some of all of the laid off employees will be called back to future employment at New Energy, but this would depend on starting back operations, and he said there are no guarantees.
"Due to the challenging economic conditions facing the ethanol industry, the New Energy Co. has decided to cease production and temporarily idle the facility," he said.