Topeka mayor says business closings are “beyond our control”

TOPEKA, Kan (KSNT)  –  During his State of the Community speech Thursday afternoon Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast said that the loss of St. Francis Health care would be devastating to the community. At the same time however, he said there’s nothing the city of Topeka can do to prevent it or any other business from closing its doors.

“Corporate decisions are beyond our control,” said Wolgast during his speech.

This speech comes the same week it was announced that St. Francis Health Care would be closing its doors this summer if new ownership isn’t found. The hospital employs 1,600 people in the Topeka area. The hospitals parent company, SCL Health, and Stormont Vail have been meeting to come up with a transition plan for the hospital.

“Basically we’re either going to have to leave and find a new job soon or we got to stick it out to get our severance packages,” said Nathan Shields.

If St. Francis were to close it would be the latest in a string of financial setbacks for the community, including the closing of Alorica and the bankruptcy of Payless Shoes. However, Wolgast said there are other expansions in the community that show Topeka is on the right course.

“We have the tremendous growth of security benefit, their increasing employment. Mars has announced several big expansions. Federal Home Loan Bank is building a new building, so there are a lot of good aspects in the economy,” said Wolgast.

This was Wolgast’s last State of the Community address. He announced earlier this month that he will not be running for re-election.

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