American Fibers and Yarns shuts down

By Christian Jennings - bio | email

September 24, 2008

BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) - The American Fibers and Yarns Plant in Bainbridge is shutting it's doors. 250 people will be out of work next month.

Southwest Georgia's unemployment rate is already higher than the national and state averages. 6.8 percent of the people in our region who want to work, can't find jobs.

And the closing of one of Decatur County's largest employers means more families will feel the financial pinch.

More than 30 years of weaving yarn and fiber will come to an end on October 17th.

Employees at the company's plant here in Bainbridge were shocked Tuesday afternoon when they received a letter telling them about their termination.

They wouldn't talk today, but others in the community did.

"It's a big plant. You've got a lot of people who have their careers there. A lot of people have been there 20 years, 10, 15 years, and I know they're probably scared right now," says small business owner Joseph Davis of Bainbridge.

American Fibers and Yarns filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday, then informed employers of the closing.

The Georgia Department of Labor says they're ready to step in.

"Our main focus is to help these individuals file for unemployment benefits as quickly as we can, and then our next step is to help them with their job search," says Bill Palmer, Career Center Manager for Decatur County Department of Labor.

But with today's economy that could be a challenge.

"People have been at a job so long they depend on that to put food on their table, to put gas in their car. You know they have little children, they have medical bills," says Davis.

Which is why filing for unemployment now, is so important.

"Unemployment insurance itself is going to be a financial bridge for these folks while they are searching for work and getting back into the workforce," says Palmer.

But until that new job comes, a small community feels their pain.

"My heart really does go out to them just because of the financial crisis they are going to be in," says another concern Bainbridge resident, Anissa Cabrera.

Decatur County's unemployment rate as of July was 8%, two percent more than the national average.

The Decatur County Administrator told me today he's worried about the affect the job loses will have on the county. People will most likely have to move away to find new jobs.

American Fibers and Yarns has two plants, the other one in Virginia. Both will be shut down.