SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Once dark, boarded up, and listed for sale, the old General Electric plant on East Sunshine in Springfield, Missouri, is open again, and Wednesday, some longtime employees were back to experience the transformation for themselves.
"I didn't cry then, but I'm almost ready to cry now," said Sue Ralls, who first started at General Electric in the 1970s.
Sue and her husband Barry Ralls met at GE, got married, and worked separate shifts for many years, so they could raise their children themselves. They stayed through the transition to Regal-Beloit.
"Both of us only had a few more years to go until retirement, so we weren't really sure what was going to happen," Ralls said.
The Ralls were laid off and had to find other jobs after more than 30 years of dedicated service.
"I'm glad that SRC had confidence," Sue Ralls said. "In the Springfield workforce, in America," Barry Ralls said.
Right now about 200 people work at SRC's East Sunshine location, but SRC is still hiring. The company has at least 50 openings locally.
"We're still surviving. We're survivors," Donna Bilyeu said.
Bilyeu retired when Regal-Beloit packed up and sent her job and hundreds of others out of the country.
"The building just looks so large. I'm glad they're here. There's a lot of young people that need jobs and middle-aged people, and I mean we just need jobs here in America," Bilyeu said.
When Regal-Beloit put the plant on the market, it was set to turn into retail.
"That was a sad, sad thing, because GE fought so hard to keep it and wanted it to succeed," former GE plant manager Tom Clark said.
The retail deal fell through. The building is now remodeled and humming once again as an SRC facility. The dedicated workers back visiting Wednesday hope a new generation will be able to call the plant home.
"I like to stay busy. I told Sue if i was a little bit younger I'd probably come to work and put my application in out here," said Glenda Burke, a plant retiree.
SRC held an open house Wednesday night open to the public. They offered food, activities, and free tours in exchange for canned good donations for the Ozarks Food Harvest.