The pessimist would say that General Electric's Mattoon Lamp Plant is doomed to close its doors forever after August 2017.
The optimist would say the current "idea generation period" status of the plant means it likely will get a revamp and live on.
And the realist, we think, would say there is a chance that the plant could get a new lease on life and retool -- but it's slim.
We prefer to share the optimist's view.
GE's recent announcement that its Mattoon site will close at the end of next August puts in jeopardy more than 140 jobs from an employer that, with a local presence for more than 60 years, once kept thousands of people here working.
Yet GE seems to not have closed the door completely on the future of the site. Officials say the current "idea generation period" will determine whether the company goes ahead with closing the Mattoon plant or decides an alternative is viable.
The time frame for ideas is 60 days, although GE officials this week would not tell the JG-TC when that time period began or ends. They also noted that suggestions will be taken from employees only.
If anyone can offer the best ideas to retool the plant and keep its assembly lines rolling, it would be those who work there daily, of course. We hope they will offer numerous options and are able to utilize advice and support from community leaders at large.
Perhaps it shouldn't have, but the impending closure of the Mattoon Lamp Plant comes as somewhat of a surprise. It was summer 2013 when GE invested $10 million here, adding a pair of new production lines for components of energy-efficient soft white light bulbs and tweaking three lines already in operation. The company also said then, just three years ago, that it would add jobs to the facility.
We're not sure what happened to that investment. It's a shame to think that such a short time later, that effort hasn't kept the Mattoon Lamp Plant viable.
For decades, GE has been a good citizen in Mattoon, and the community has been a good partner for the company. Most local natives know someone who has worked at the plant, and many have multiple family members and friends who have made a living via offering their skills at the factory.
We hope that the "idea generation period" for GE's Mattoon Lamp Plant is a successful one for GE, its employees and the community. We would hate to see this factory go the way of several others in Coles County, leaving voids behind that take years to fill -- if ever.
If you know a GE employee and you have an idea to help the plant, speak up. The community needs to support this valuable employer and help it find a future here.
GE in Mattoon deserves for its light to shine bright again -- not to fade away.
-- JG-TC Editorial Board