Correction: A previous version of the article notes that housing stipends are offered to employees. Housing stipends are offered to Insitu interns only, Beloy said.
Influenced by the impending drawback from Afghanistan, Bingen-based drone manufacturer Insitu announced voluntary layoffs on June 8.
Insitu Spokesperson Jennifer Beloy did not provide a specific number of employees who volunteered for the downsizing by press deadline but noted the reductions in force targeted Field Service Representative positions, occupied by the employees tasked with supporting Insitu customers in the areas where the drones are deployed.
Because Field Service Representatives are employees who work in those service areas, most notably in Afghanistan, Beloy said most of the employees terminated do not reside in the Columbia Gorge since they do not need to report to Insitu facilities.
“In terms of impacts to the Gorge, it’s not really significant. People who chose to take layoff packages … don’t really live here,” Beloy said on Friday.
Roughly 700 Insitu employees reside in the Columbia Gorge, Beloy said, confirming that no additional layoffs are planned at this time.
Insitu had been preparing for the moment when operations would subside in Afghanistan, Beloy said, and “just like any business, we’re just adjusting what our needs are to support our customer base.”
The drone manufacturing company, which is a subsidiary of Boeing, serves 30 customers globally, primarily through their manufacturing of the RQ-21 BlackJack and ScanEagle drones and support to those customers, most commonly domestic and international military agencies. In this transitionary period through the COVID-19 pandemic and post-Afghanistan, Beloy said the company is refocusing its sights and restructuring its workforce.
The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered most in-person work at the company’s various facilities, and while management recently announced a process to return to in-person work, Beloy said the company is being “very flexible” with the transition.
The company is also preparing for an upcoming demonstration to six countries at ArcticX, a live exhibition featuring the latest innovations in satellite imaging and analytics at Andoya Space Center in Northern Norway.
Insitu is teaming up with The Hood Technology Corporation, a Hood River-based drone support company, by bringing to the demonstration, along with Insitu products, the Alticam 14 payload, which provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance services through a high resolution, enhanced telescope and laser designation targeting capabilities.
Despite the closure of one facility last year, which Beloy said had been planned prior to the pandemic, as well as the closure of their workforce housing program (the company now instead offers housing stipends to interns), Beloy affirmed that “Insitu is not leaving the Gorge.
“Most of our employees live and work here and care about the community,” Beloy said. And the company puts in work to ensure it supports the community-driven mindset, through volunteer work and a donation-match system run by Boeing, which has provided more than $100,000 to charitable organizations in the community since the start of the year.