Businesses near Cooper impacted -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Businesses near Cooper impacted

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

September 24, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Cooper Tire in Albany remains closed tonight, apparently because of a synthetic rubber shortage. Not only are the 1,300 people who work at the plant affected, but people who work near the facility are also feeling the effects of the temporary shutdown.

Hitesh Patel likes the mornings. That's his busiest time of day with a shift of Cooper employees rushing into his store. "Everybody's good. There's very good customers over there. Very nice." But he hasn't had as many customers today.

While some warehouse employees were at the plant, many others were told to stay home.  Patel said, "Somebody told me they are going to shut down for a week because they don't have material."

Cooper officials again told us today that they wouldn't answer questions about what's happening at the plant, but released this statement:

"Due to the continuing impact of the recent hurricanes, our suppliers have not been able to provide us with certain raw materials necessary for production. As a result, we have had to curtail production at our facilities. This is a fluid situation and we are dependant on our suppliers ability to provide raw materials."

We don't know how many Cooper employees are being affected or how long they'll be out of work. Cooper officials aren't being clear about that. One thing that is clear, is that the businesses around Cooper are hurting. "It hurt me," said Patel.  "A lot of business I do with people over there."

And if Cooper were to shut down indefinitely, Patel would have to follow suit. "That would be a problem for me. I would have to shut down the place then." You would have to shut down without Cooper? "MmmHmm." But he's hopeful that won't happen, and that tomorrow, will be business as usual.

Cooper officials told us this afternoon they are in communication with employees and letting them know information as it develops, but employees we spoke to said they have no idea how long the production lines will be shut down.