Douglas-Coffee County officials react to plant closure - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Douglas-Coffee County officials react to plant closure

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By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Just days after the Pilgrim's Pride Chicken Processing Plant announced it will cut 900 jobs and close its Douglas Plant the city is working to bring more jobs to the area.

You don't have to tell Coffee County Commissioner Jimmy Kitchens and Douglas City manager Terrell Jacobs the company's decision couldn't come at a worse time.

"There are banks that are involved in this, there are suppliers who are involved in this," said Terrell Jacobs, Douglas City Manager.

It doesn't only mean bad news for the 900 Pilgrim's Pride workers but for others who depend on one of the counties top employers.

"We have 138 counties in the area not just Coffee County but in the surrounding area and adjoining counties which will be affected," said Jimmy Kitchens, Coffee County Commission Chair.

The plant is Douglas' largest water-sewer customer, and with an already tight budget the city will see another loss in revenue.

"It came at a time where we thought the plant here was making money and would be the one to sustain," said Kitchens.

"We're already working with that team and have a meeting set up in the coming weeks to continue growing jobs in this community," said JoAnne Lewis, Douglas-Coffee Co. Economic Development.

Joanne Lewis is the Coffee-Douglas Economic Development director.

She expects to announce more jobs coming to the area in the near future.

"We're working with three prospects now, and two of those look very promising," said Lewis.

While new companies will bring new jobs, the plant's closure means farmers who raise chickens may have a harder time finding someone to buy them.

"These farmers are my friends people I've known all of my life, I've not talked to one yet who've got anything good to say they're just devastated by this especially in a time where economic times are bad," said Kitchens.

Pilgrim's pride will also close plants in Arkansas and Louisiana.

The closures will save the company roughly $110 million.

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