Workers at the Yachiyo manufacturing plant in Barrie are wondering what the future holds for them after the company said yesterday it was looking for a buyer.

Despite the news, Yachiyo workers are trying to stay optimistic.

“People are unsure of whether they'll have a job a year from now,” says Anthony van Damme, one of the 350 employees told yesterday the plant is up for sale.

But he hopes that if and when the plant is sold, he'll keep his job.

“They have told us there is a contract in place that means all temporary and contract associates will be kept here in the plant,” he says.

That promise is something workers are holding onto amid the uncertainty.

But to keep those jobs, Yachiyo needs to find a buyer for the auto parts plant. The company says they are shifting away from the metal products produced at the Barrie plant and is moving toward plastic products.

“I would think that selling any business especially being a manufacturing business is going to be a challenge,” says Norm Smith, an economics professor at Georgian College in Barrie.

He says one of the biggest challenges to companies setting up shop in Ontario is the high cost of fuel and electricity.

“The tough sell is that costs are higher because energy costs are higher and they may look at other jurisdictions where those costs are low,” Smith says.

While Barrie has lost manufacturing plants in the past, in recent years new businesses have moved in, often retrofitting old plants for new uses. The city plans to do whatever it can to help Yachiyo find a buyer and keep those 350 jobs.

“It's our job as a city to try and make the climate for business as attractive as possible and we'll do what we can to help Yachiyo moving forward,” says Mayor Jeff Lehman.

Yachiyo says they are in the process of finding a buyer but at this point nothing has been finalized. In the meantime it will be business as usual and the plant plans to move forward with a previous plan to cut 35 jobs next year.

That decision was announced last fall.