OUT OF JOBS: 350 in a town of 6,500 left in limbo after two plants close in Thomson

Saturday, June 8, 2019
News 12 at 11 O’Clock

THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – It's been a tough few weeks in Thomson.

"It is a sad day in a small community when people lose good jobs,"
Terry Holley, a local businessman said.

First, a fire so big at the Georgia-Pacific plant, it couldn't be fought, so the community watched.

"It was big news in the area," Holley said.

There's not much left of the building and nothing left for the 100 employees that worked there. The plant will not rebuild.

"People immediately thought of the jobs," Holley said.

Then, Hollander Sleep Products filed for bankruptcy leaving close to 250 people in limbo.

"It's bad. It's bad any time a community, a small community where everyone knows people," Holley said. "Everyone knows somebody that's affected by that."

Terry Holley works at the local jewelry store. The impact of the closures goes beyond the hundreds they employed, it reaches the entire community.

"We hate to see any industry go because in small towns, we need good jobs so that retail centers like myself and stores can thrive," Holley said. "People can have good jobs, which means good schools, which means people moving in."

Terry says the loss of Georgia-Pacific hurt, but it was no shock after flames and smoke filled the sky. But Hollander, he says, was a surprise.

In August of 2018, the company filed for bankruptcy, but they changed their mind.

"The news was it was going to make it and turn it around and that they were here to stay," Holley said. "So, it was a little bit of a surprise that they were leaving."

Now about 350 people in a town of 6,500 are left with uncertainty.

"I think people are diligent around here and somewhat resilient," Holley said. "We're going to pull through."

The plants won't rebuild, but the people of Thomson will.