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Ohio Community Braces for Hard Times

The international mail carrier Deutsche Post, or DHL, plans to cut another 9,500 jobs in the United States on top of the 5,400 announced earlier this year because of heavy losses in its express delivery operations. Most of the job cuts are in Wilmington, Ohio where DHL's U.S. service hub is located. VOA's Mil Arcega looks at the impact on the small Midwestern town.

In the town of 13,000 people, the news is heartbreaking. Despite early warnings, Wilmington residents are stunned that DHL, the town's largest employer, is pulling up stakes, leaving thousands of people out of work.

"These are troubling and sad times," says Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. Governor Strickland met with local officials to find ways to replace jobs that will be lost. He's pushing for federal funds to retrain thousands of laid-off workers.

"Extraordinary efforts must be made to deal with what may be one of the worst economic dislocations that we have faced as a nation," Strickland said.

DHL employee Dervin Bostic doubts retraining is the answer. Recently disabled, Bostic says losing his job will be devastating.

"I probably lost 50 percent of the motion in my feet," Bostic said. "So, whether I'm going to be able to do anything else, take care of my family…(breaks down)"

Bostic is not alone.

The ripple effect could be severe. Local officials say at least 18 companies depend directly on business generated by the package shipping company.

Wilmington Mayor David Raizk acknowledges difficult times are ahead but says the town will survive.

"We're not going to have a ghost town," Raizk said. "This is a great community, there's wonderful people that live here, and we're all going to pull together to try to make something work."

The German-based company expects to lose more than $1.5 billion this year as a result of the economic downturn.

Wilmington residents say the damage to families will be harder to gauge.