Opp hit hard by economic blow - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Opp hit hard by economic blow

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The familiar hum at the Johnston Textile Mill in Opp has been a constant sound for decades but not for long.

In a cost-saving move company officials are consolidating operations, shutting down its plant in Opp and moving everything to the main facility in Phenix City, some 150 miles away.

"This was a place where everybody wanted to work," said Human Resources Manager Katrina Diamond.

Even though Diamond had a feeling this day was coming, it's still sad she says, a 17-year career in jeopardy. Employees have been offered to come along to the Phenix City facility, same job, same pay.

This offer is potentially good for them, not so promising for this town of around 7,000. A year ago the mayor says he worked out a deal with the mill to stay.

"We're very disappointed. We were able to readjust their utility rate but we can only do so much," said Mayor H.D. Edgar.

The Johnston Mill makes specialty cloths such as drapes and tablecloths. At one time the mill was the town's largest employer.

Dennis Boden would have celebrated 25 years with Johnston in two months.

"It was a good company. They helped put my two daughters through college and put food on the table," Boden said.

It's not clear if all 135 workers will take the offer and go to Phenix city. We do know the last day of operations is January 18th.

Boden and Diamond haven't decided if they'll move.

Neal Presley, meantime, is certain the shut down is bound to have an impact on his pharmacy in downtown Opp.

"It's going to be hard to replace 135 employees," Presley said.

Presley anticipates about a 5% drop in business by this time next year.

Hard times in a small town yet the mayor is choosing to look at the silver lining in this season of thanks.

"These are good folks, and hopefully we'll be able to recruit another industry here," he said.

The mayor says he wouldn't be surprised if sales tax revenues drop by 2% by the time the company shuts down its Opp business early next year.

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