Shaw Industries closes its Valdosta facility - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Shaw Industries closes its Valdosta facility

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By Robin Jedlicka - bio | email

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Valdosta is quickly becoming one of the industrial hubs of the South East. Despite their success, Shaw Industries Group Incorporated, a company with nearly 250 local employees, will be shutting down for good in four to five weeks.

"We're disappointed--not necessarily shocked--but upset and disappointed. Especially for those men and women who are employed there," says Brad Lofton, Executive Director of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority.  "It's just a tough, tough time to be unemployed in this economy."

While the news of Shaw's closing was jarring, for many, it was not unexpected.  Shaw Industries manufactures and distributes products for flooring such as hardwood, ceramic tiles, and carpeting. With the drop in the housing industry, the demand for these products has plummeted.

"We know that we have to maintain a diverse industry and economy," says Mayor John Fretti.  "When one sector is effected, as in this case with housing--housing was the start to this whole economic downturn--we aren't reliant upon that one sector."

While the current job market may look bleak, Valdosta-Lowndes County does have several industrial projects on the horizon.  Jeffery Hanson, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, says, "We're not living in a bubble. We are not immune from these types of things happening; however, we have faired far better than most."

The industrial authority is already considering how to market Shaw's appealing building to other companies to bring new jobs.

"Yeah, we're going to feel the hit, but we're going to absorb it, and we're going to be better for it," says Mayor Fretti.

The closing of Shaw Industries is motivating local leaders to work hard to ensure that this closing remains an isolated case.

Employees of Shaw Industries will receive sixty days of severance pay.  The Shaw facility in Calhoun, Georgia will also be closing--resulting in the loss of 400 more jobs.

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