Alex City suffers new blow as Russell announces closure of decor - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Alex City suffers new blow as Russell announces closure of decorations plant

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ALEXANDER CITY, AL (WSFA) -

Employees of the Russell Athletic/Fruit of the Loom Mill, specifically the Decorations Plant, in Alexander City were greeted Wednesday morning with an unwelcome sight. Employees were handed a letter stating the facility will soon close with the first round of "employment separations" starting on or around July 29.

This same facility announced back in January that before March, the company would lay off nearly half of the work force at the Alex City location - nearly 200 people.

At the time, 390 people were listed as working at that location. 

Sr. Vice President of Manufacturing Operations, Jeff Thurman, wrote in the letter presented to employees, "As you all know, the competitiveness of the apparel market makes for a very difficult business environment and requires that we constantly seek ways to improve our overall competitiveness."

Thurman goes on to say, "This decision is not a reflection on your hard work and we thank you for your service."

The Distribution Plant, which employs 400 people, will remain open for the foreseeable future. 

NOT GOOD FOR THE CITY

Steve Hays is not a native of Alex City but has been in town long enough to know the fresh round of layoffs by the Russell Corporation's Fruit of the Loom plant can't be good for the city's psyche, not to mention the employees themselves.

"That's 200 families and that means they won't be able to spend," said Hays.

Since 1998 Alex City has lost around 7,000 jobs when the textile industry started to crumble in the mid-90s. Today, Fruit of the Loom told 200 employees the 'apparel market has become a very difficult environment and needed to find ways to make Fruit of the Loom more competitive.'

WSFA 12 News tried to get more questions answered through the company's attorney but was not able to reach him. The layoffs do not affect Fruit of the Loom's distribution plant on the 60 acre campus which employs a little more than 400.

The people losing their jobs are those who work in what's known as the 'decorations' plant, employees who put letters and numbers on athletic jerseys.

"Im not angry, just hurt and saddened," said Alex City mayor Charles Shaw.

Although this is a tough one to swallow, the mayor believes little by little Alex City is making progress to diversify. For example, the city has gained 2,500 new jobs in the last 5 years thanks to automobile suppliers. Shaw hopes those suppliers will hire the very people losing their jobs.

"We have 4 companies that are doing very well right now and they're expanding," said Shaw.

"We just have to keep diversifying," said Hays.

As for the first term mayor Shaw knows what his first order of business will be when he wakes up Thursday morning; hit the recruiting trail for new industries.

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