Major South Georgia employer is shutting down - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Major South Georgia employer is shutting down

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By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Another major South Georgia employer is shutting down.

900 workers were told Friday they'll lose their jobs within the next 75-days when the Pilgrim's Pride chicken processing plant in Douglas closes.

The company says that plant and two others are underperforming, and will be shut down to save money.

"It's devastating just terrible," said Tessie Wesley, Pilgrim's Pride Employee.

Wesley is one of the workers at the Pilgrim's Pride chicken processing plant in Douglas who found out Friday they're losing their jobs.

"They called a meeting today and told everybody they were going to shut three plants down, and we were one of them," said Wesley.

The Douglas location, one in Arkansas, and one in Louisiana will all stop production within in the coming months, cutting approximately 3,000 jobs.

The jobs amount to roughly 7 percent of the company's workforce.

"Myself and governor Perdue received a phone call from the CEO of Pilgrims to inform us of their decision to close this Douglas plant," said Sen. Greg Goggans, (R) Douglas.

Senator Goggans represents this area, a region where unemployment is at 9.3 percent already higher than the state average.

"With the economic distress this country is in this is not the time and place to lose these jobs," said Goggans.

Those jobs will be difficult to replace.

"Most important thing that we can do as state leaders is to try to create jobs," said Goggans.

Wesley has worked here for 9 years; the cuts came as a surprise.

"Never had a clue, because they were shutting down other plants we thought we would be all right," said Goggans.

Wesley has experience working in nursing homes and will try to return to that work, but she worries about many of her co-workers.

"It's going to be hard on a lot of them because a lot of them won't be able to draw unemployment, some of them don't have many skills and won't be able to find something else, it's going to be kind of hard," said Goggans.

And it will be hard for Coffee County to deal with the loss of one of its largest employers.

The closure will also hurt many Georgia chicken farmers, about 140 of them currently sell to Pilgrims Pride.

The Douglas-Coffee County Economic Development Authority hopes to announce some new jobs soon, but it won't be nearly the number lost on Friday.

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