What will be the ripple effects of Merck? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

What will be the ripple effects of Merck?

November 29, 2005

Dougherty County-- The effects of the closure of Merck and Company are far reaching. The loss of 350 jobs will be felt by thousands of people and dozens of businesses that rely on the Albany plant, from an air conditioner repair service to a Subway shop where Merck workers eat.

Come lunch time every day, you can find a line of customers at the Subway on U. S. 19. Many of those customers are Merck employees, who work just block away at the Flint River plant.

"A lot of them we know on a first name basis. Most of them have on their badge." Manager Terry Carter estimates about a third of the restaurant's business comes from Merck employees. "You've got a potential chance of losing a lot of customers," said Carter.

The Flint River plant is set to close at the end of next year. It's one of five plants Merck and Company is shutting down or selling, as part of a restructuring plan that will save the drug giant $2 Billion by 2010.

Three-hundred-fifty employees will be out of a job. That means fewer people spending money at area businesses and the possibility of families moving out of town. And, Merck spends around $25 Million a year buying services like shipping, air conditioning repairs and utilities.

"The check is for $23,500," said Merck employee Lorraine Alexander. But also today, a sign that Merck plans to continue giving back to the community while they're still here. The company's foundation, based in New Jersey, gave a $23,500 check to Dougherty County's Communities in School program which helps students at risk of dropping out of school.

"There are some other things that we'll be doing from now to the end of the year, as far as the foundation for 2005. Merck has been very committed to the community through the years," said Alexander.

That commitment will help these student stay in school and get their diploma - more proof that Merck effects the lives of most people in this community.

Seven-thousand Merck employees worldwide will be laid off in the restructuring effort, half of those work in American plants.

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