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First phase of 1400 SRS layoffs begins

Jackson water tower

1400 jobs will be cut at Savannah River Site in three phrases. The effects are expected to ripple through the small Jackson community. (November 15, 2010 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 First at Five / Monday, November 15, 2010

JACKSON, S.C.----The Savannah River Site is cutting its workforce. Around 1,400 jobs will be eliminated in three phases. Phase one begins today. In the next four weeks, workers have the choice to voluntarily leave or retire. After that, the layoffs will be involuntary.

These layoffs have many people thinking about their futures. SRS employees aren't the only ones affected.

Nick Stroud has been working at the Pizza Stop for the past two years. He's developed relationships with his customers and he's not happy to hear that many of them will be leaving.

"We get to know them. We don't just make their food," Nick says.

He fears the Pizza Stop will take a huge hit with the layoffs that are coming. "I say approximately 90% of the business on a daily basis comes from the plant--the other 10% is at nighttime."

Jim Hanna, the vice president of workforce services at SRS, says stimulus money created around 2,200 jobs. He says 800 of them would have been lost a year ago without the stimulus money. "The money that was provided by the Department of Energy for the stimulus work has had a tremendous impact on accelerating work that was planned to be done but will be completed in later years...we were able to focus on that work early and be able to shrink the footprint on the site," Jim says.

But the employees who are going to be affected by these layoffs are permanent SRS employees. "As you go through workforce restructuring, they're never easy, and that's obviously compounded more with the holidays coming up," Jim says.

Harvey Tollison owns the Pizza Stop. He used to work at SRS and hopes more big future projects will keep jobs in the area. But his advice for those who have to move on: "You always need to plan for the future. So if you are working out there, already start making plans and invest in businesses, franchises or whatever. But there is life after SRS."

As for Nick, he hopes they make it past this huge layoff. "It's going to hurt Jackson all around--not just the pizza stop. It's going to affect the Buckhead, the gas station...if all those people are gone, it's going to hurt everyone around here," he says. Nick hopes companies think about the people in Jackson and he hopes the Pizza Stop always stays open for business.

The Savannah River Site is offering employment assistance for every worker being let go. They are working with the Department of Energy to bring in a Contractor Transition Service Center starting in January. They will be able to learn about resume writing, interviewing techniques and job search techniques. SRS is also inviting local and regional companies to come in and possibly hire those employees.

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