Tift County gets more bad news - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tift County gets more bad news

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

September 19, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Fujifilm Processing in Tifton is closing its doors, putting 99 more people out of work in a community hit hard by job losses. The company filed paperwork with the Department of Labor this week and met with employees Wednesday to give them the bad news.

The closure is part of an effort to streamline their distribution network. In the last 12 months Tifton's lost 1200 jobs. Economic Development officials say it's a direct result of the nation's economic hard times.

Fujifilm Processing has been in Tifton for 20 years. Employees wouldn't talk with us on camera, but off camera said they were shocked when they were told they would be out of a job by Thanksgiving.

 The two month notice was given Wednesday when the Department of Labor received the news.

 "It does require that municipalities be notified of plant closures and we have received that closure notice," says Starling Bussey of the Department of Labor.

A statement from the company blames the closure on the switch from traditional photography to digital cameras. Company officials say it is in no way a reflection of the performance of the associates or management of the facility. Tifton's distribution and logistics industry has recently taken a hit. Chamber officials blame the recent 1,200 jobs lost on poor economic conditions nationwide.

 "With the economy having some problems right now, national firms are having problems and we've seen that in a real way in our community with a couple of plant closings, logistics and distribution centers closing," says Tift County-Tifton Chamber of Commerce President Brad Day.

The Department of Labor is working with the company to provide whatever resources it deems necessary for employees.

"We offer interviewing skills, resume writing, networking, how to do a search on the Internet, we also have our own website with jobs posted," said Starling.

Chamber officials have also met with Fujifilm Processing to see if there was anything that could be done to save the Tifton jobs, but streamlining distribution won out.

"We're not able to influence the supply of oil in the nation and the demand for oil, our economy though because this is a major part of our economy we've hit the highest unemployment rate since 1997," Day said.

The Economic Development Commission's First Focus Team plans to hold a job fair in November for Fujifilm employees and the community. The company's plans to close the Tifton plant by November 17th.