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June 2, 2017ST. JOSEPH, Mo. |  By: AP

WireCo pulls out of St. Joseph permanently

Employees at WireCo WorldGroup have left the plant for the last time, after decades of the company operating in St. Joseph.

The international wire and synthetic rope company announced in March 2016 that it would end most manufacturing operations in St. Joseph and eliminate 49 jobs. Lanny Mears, who worked at Wire Rope for almost 30 years, said Thursday over half of his co-workers were laid off last August.

Falling oil prices hurt WireCo in recent years, with net sales plummeting $172 million in 2015. President and CEO Chris Ayers announced $18.3 million in expense reductions in 2015.

Hillyard Industries of St. Joseph, maker of cleaning and hygiene products, plans to redevelop about 25 acres of WireCo's downtown property into a manufacturing and national distribution center.