Pilgrims Pride is returning to Douglas - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Pilgrims Pride is returning to Douglas

By Jay Polk - bio | email

DOUGLAS, GA (WALB) – Many South Georgia towns have been hurt by the down economy, but Douglas was devastated when the largest employer in town shut down.

Thursday, the city got some good news.

Pilgrims Pride has decided to reopen its chicken processing plant by January 2011.

When the plant shut down last May, 900 workers were laid off.

Officials say that led to the loss of 4000 jobs a 10 county area.  Unemployment in Coffee County shot up to 18-percent, the fourth highest rate in Georgia.

While poultry producers will see the impact of today's decision soon, the effects of re-opening the plant will eventually reach far beyond the farms that supply it.

Walter Dockery, a poultry farmer said, "they bring our chickens when they're a day old. The day they hatch, they'll bring the chickens to the farm, approximately 20000 chickens per house."

JoAnne Lewis, the Executive Director of the Douglas/Coffee County Economic Development Authority said, "it was about all of the businesses here and all of the citizens that need jobs. Everything from the trucking industry to the restaurants to the poultry supply houses to the utility, you name it."

Most of the 900 employees who were laid off are expected to be brought back when the plant re-opens.

Pilgrims Pride credits improved first quarter earnings for its decision to revive operations in Douglas.

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