Barnwell plant closing; more than 300 out of a job

By: Ashley Jeffery Email
By: Ashley Jeffery Email

News 12 @ 11 o'clock -- January 14, 2009

BARNWELL, SC -- Darlene Creech says she''ll never forget when she heard the news that her job of 15 years would soon be gone.

"I went deaf. I couldn't. I lost it and it still hurts because I was saying, 'Lord, what am I going to do,'" said Darlene Creech.

After 16 years in business, the Barnwell Hanesbrand plant is closing its doors, shipping it's work to El Salvador and leaving more than 300 people without a job come April.

"It's heartbreaking, it's saddening and I know a lot of people are thinking the same way. They just don't know," said Deloris Boyce.

Deloris has spent the last 13 years of her life working at the plant and says she never saw it coming.

"We didn't expect closing. We thought initially layoffs. We kind of expected that because during the holidays, we did have longer than usual time off. So we expected layoffs, but the closing, especially in April was a total shock," said Deloris.

Hanesbrand's closing is just the latest the city and the county have had to deal with. They're seeing more businesses having to put up for sale signs; leaving more people looking for jobs.

Just last month, the Barnwell Milliken plant announced it's closing putting more than 100 people out of a job. Now that 300 more will join the ranks, Darlene says Barnwell's employment future doesn't look too bright.

"It's going to be like a third world," said Darlene.

Even with Hanesbrand giving people like Darlene severance pay and offering to help find new jobs, she wonders if it will be enough.

"It was my life. It took care of me and my grandkids. I'm lost now," said Darlene.

Barnwell City Administrator John Zawacki says the city will lose about $400,000 in revenue because of the plant's closing. He says once both Milliken and Hanesbrand are closed, the city will be out of about $650,000. He says the company Horsehead still plans to come in and that'll create about 65 jobs. A cabinet making company that would create 150 jobs also wants to come, but has put plans on hold because of the economy and the housing market.


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