Thursday morning Savannah River Remediation staff got a letter explaining the company's "workforce restructuring" plan. SRR laid off nearly 500 employees due to budget cuts.
"A $100 million loss in their budget is what led to this," said David Jameson, president of the Aiken Chamber of Commerce.
Jameson says this workforce restructuring plan has been brewing for some time. And since SRR is one of the largest employs in the CSRA, Jameson says this could have a major impact on the region.
"Will they be able to find other jobs here? Will they leave the community? Does this make other employees nervous and so do they slow down their consumer?" Jameson questioned.
Jameson said there's no way of knowing now, but surrounding businesses could also be affected.
Joe's Grill is half a mile away from one of the SRS gates. They said up to 75 percent of their lunch crowd is SRS workers, but they don't expect the layoffs to have a serious impact on the restaurant.
"There's been quite a few already laid off, and it doesn't seem to affect my business so hopefully it won't if there's more laid off, because they rehire, then layoff, then rehire," said Janice Coleman. She and her husband own the restaurant.
While there is currently no plan to rehire any employees, SRR officials say this is a necessary step to realign its workforce to continue safely managing the liquid waste at the SRS.
A Savannah River contractor that manages liquid waste at the site will lay off 465 employees.
Savannah River Remediation announced the layoffs Wednesday. Company officials say the move is necessary because of financial challenges.
The last day for employees who are laid off will be Sept. 27, according to a press release from the contractor. Employees will receive two weeks' pay in lieu of notice and a severance payment equal to one week's pay for each full year of eligibility service up to a maximum of 26 weeks.
Medical coverage for employees who are laid off can also be continued, and outplacement services are available through the state.
A letter announcing the layoffs was sent to SRR employees Wednesday morning.
"I regret that we have to take this step, but I encourage you to avoid the distractions that these workforce changes can cause," the letter reads. "We ask that you continue to focus on achievement of this critical mission, and watch out for each other's safety."