October 5, 2005
The pain of 350 layoffs at Avondale Mills is being felt throughout Aiken County, and not just among mill workers. Most of the businesses in Graniteville count on Avondale’s workers for their livelihood.
Graniteville was built around its Mills. And employees often spend their paychecks on the businesses nearby.
Charlie Akester opened KC’s Homemade Ice Cream two months ago. He’s building his customer base one sweet treat at a time. About thirty percent of his new customers work at Avondale Mills.
“They order lunch and homemade ice cream to take to their children at night,” Akester said.
Less people with a paycheck might mean less soft serve. And that will hurt Charlie’s business.
“We’re not sure what’s gonna happen in the future, but yeah, we’re concerned,” Akester said.
At the Quick Stop Pantry, mill workers often stop in and cash their paychecks and sometimes they use that money to buy gas and groceries.
“It’s definitely gonna effect our business,” Ash Shah said.
Quick Stop’s owner Ash Shah says less business simply means he’ll have to get more creative.
“We’ll start promoting and see what more we can do,” Shah said.
While businesses are promoting sales, Aiken County continues to promote its work force.
“We work very hard to try and find good paying jobs for all our folks and we’ll continue those efforts,” said Clay Killian, Aiken County Administrator.
Aiken County’s Administrator Clay Killian says because of the county council’s efforts, opportunities to keep the laid off workers around are coming. Jobs are on the way at Global Containment Systems in New Ellenton. And jobs should come this winter when construction starts on the billion-dollar Graniteville development off Bettis Academy Road.
“A lot of these folks are probably native to the county, been here all their lives and they’re important,” Killian said.
Important people almost everyone in Aiken County hopes stick around.