South Georgia Delphi plant could close -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia Delphi plant could close

March 31, 2006

Fitzgerald-- A South Georgia auto-parts plant faces closure. On Friday, the Delphi Corporation asked a federal bankruptcy court to void its labor contracts. The plan could do away with nearly 300 high paying in Fitzgerald.

The Delphi Corporation filed for bankruptcy protection in October. Now, they announce 21 of 29 plants will either close or be sold as part of a restructuring plan. If the Fitzgerald plant closes, it would affect those inside and outside the plant.

At Floyd's in Fitzgerald, the past eight years have been spent cutting up the ribs and serving up the barbeque. "Good food and good customers," says owner Ronny Cantrell. But amidst the the food on Friday night, customer discussions went past the macaroni and cheese to talks of economics.

"Everybody's curious as to what's going to happen out there you know," says customer Ron Paulk.

The Fitzgerald Delphi plant means a lot of dollars and cents for Floyd's owner Ronny Cantrell. "About 20 percent of my business is from Delphi," says Cantrell. Employees from the plant eat at Floyd's for breakfast, lunch and dinner but Cantrell isn't mainly worried about his business. He's concerned about the employees and the community.

"They've been for 20 something years and I think it's going to be a big impact on the community," says Cantrell.

"For the number of employees that they have, it'll just be a big hurt on the town to have that many people lose a job all at one time," says Paulk.

Ron Paulk has lived in Fitzgerald for more than 40 years. He's seen many businesses come and go but feels Delphi leaving would deliver the biggest blow. "The community spent a long time putting that together twenty or so years ago," says Paulk, "A lot of people have put their career into Delphi."

Delphi discussions around town have many hopeful that there will be some good news soon. "There's some rumors that there's another company that's going to come and buy it out so I hope that happens," says Cantrell.

But if it doesn't happen, restaurants like Floyd's will not only miss some finances but lots of familiar faces. "Very much, and I've made a lot of friends out there too," says Cantrell. Friends that could be out of a job, but Cantrell is pulling for them and still making sure they have a good meal.

Economic Development Director John Flythe says if the plant closes, it will be bad for the area but they'll try to place employees in other good paying jobs. They'll also work hard to generate an interest in the plant from big industries.

Mayor Gerald Thompson tells WALB that the plant could be sold soon. He's not sure who the potential buyer is but he says the city will pursue it seriously.



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