AN estimated 1000 employees thrown out of work when Hall’s of Broxburn closed earlier this year are said to have found new jobs.
More than £8 million has been ploughed into rebuilding the local economy following the closure of the meat processing plant.
More than 1700 people worked at the factory, which dated back to 1932 and was famed for Hall’s lorne sausages, Wee Willie Winkies, haggis and black pudding.
Dutch owners Vion announced in July 2012 they planned to shut the plant, which they said was losing £79,000 a day. The announcement was likened to a pit closure and local traders said they feared for their livelihoods.
Attempts to save the factory, including a Scottish Government offer to buy it and lease it back, fell through.
But following efforts by a Scottish Government-led task force, many of the former workforce now appear to have found other jobs.
Unemployment rates in the area have subsequently improved, some former employees have started up their own businesses and others have been re-employed in food-processing plants around the Central Belt.
Footwear firm Schuh is to create 50 jobs, while hundreds more have been safeguarded thanks to direct grant support, the Scottish Government said.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said about 100 firms were already benefiting from specific funds to take on new employees.
Scottish Enterprise is allocating more than £1m to a further 84 firms to bring nearly 400 jobs to the area.
The community has also been boosted by initiatives including £630,000 on-site support during the wind-down of the factory; £225,000 for English-language training for 400 workers, mainly from Poland; and a new £1m Business Gateway centre that is in itself creating 170 jobs.
Mr Swinney said: “Firms, such as Campbells Meats and AK Stoddart, beef-processing firms based in Broxburn, employed former Hall’s employees. Hall’s staff have also been provided with support to set up their own businesses such as Kowalski Couriers and the Pit Stop cafe.”
He said Schuh had received £170,000 funding and the company’s move to Bathgate was expected to safeguard 88 jobs and create 50 over the next five years.
He added: “It is always difficult for any area affected by a large number of redundancies.
“The early results in Broxburn are a sign of a community determined to recover, and the Scottish Government will continue to support West Lothian to rebuild.”
Lothian Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “These reports show good progress in helping to find new jobs for the workers at Hall’s. So many different organisations have played their part in helping to get so many back to work, but with hundreds still to find work, there can’t be any let-up. We need to redouble the effort.”