News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013
WRENS, Ga. (WRDW) -- Along with having one of the highest unemployment rates in the state at 14.6 percent, Wrens is closing its biggest plant.
"The local folks here are just distraught as we are. They're hit pretty hard by this," said Tom Jordan of the Jefferson Development Authority.
It's big news with an even bigger impact. The Glit Microtron plant in Wrens is closing its doors.
"It's just a hard time for 120 families that will be losing their jobs when the plant is closed," Jordan said.
After more than 30 years, the plant has only 60 more days. Then this big building becomes an empty shell, and 120 wallets get a little emptier, too.
"Can't imagine. These may be the bread winners of the family," Jordan said.
Jefferson County has the eighth highest unemployment rate in the state at 14.6 percent, and experts say this closing will only make that worse.
"I'm sure this will drive us slightly higher than that," Jordan said.
But there might be some hope on the horizon.
"Fortunately, in the area we have some new jobs, some new companies that are going to be hiring in that same period," Jordan explained.
"The road leads to the plant over there. The new plant they're building," construction worker Ricky Habersham said.
It's all cranes and pulleys now, but soon this building will be a new Pyramax Ceramics plant, and hopefully the employer to many of the Glit plant workers losing their jobs.
Habersham says he remembers being in the same boat.
"Has you wondering will I find another job or what?" Habersham said.
The new plant might be the answer for some, but there won't be enough jobs for everyone, leaving the small town of Wrens facing a very big challenge.
"This community is very resilient. We're still going to have to keep our faith and keep our strength to move forward," Jordan said.
We're told some of those laid off workers will get severance packages and others will qualify for retirement, but for the younger employees, they're hoping this new plant is the answer.
The plant that's closing makes janitorial and sanitation products, but the ceramics plant will use similar thermal machines, so many of the workers will be qualified.