Lanett Residents Speak About Plant Closing

An East Alabama city is coping with the worst economic news its gotten in years. WestPoint Homes is laying off 370 people and shutting down its factory in Lanett.

Lanett is located in Chambers County and it's not a mecca for industry. So when WestPoint Home announced the shut-down it took an entire city by surprise.

The company, formerly known as WestPoint Stevens, is a textile manufacturer and just the latest in a string of textile companies to downsize over recent years. In the neighborhood around the mill everyone is an employee or at least knows one. And they say they worry about their economic future.

"Valley is just going down. Because this place used to be a strong place, Lanett," said Lanett resident Michael Pollup.

Pollup says the mill is what brings money to the town because there's nothing else.

And it's not just the Lanett plant that's shutting down. WestPoint also announced its Opelika plant is closing sometime in November. That brings the total number of lay-offs to right around 700. Fortunately, for Opelika there are more businesses in the area to help absorb the loss.

Other laid off employees say they look forward to the opening of the new Kia plant in nearby West Point, Georgia. But just Tuesday we learned construction on that plant isn't even expected to begin until sometime next year.

Officials say the reason the plants are closing down is foreign competition and the increased cost of raw materials. They're outsourcing the work now, to other facilities.

There are still 2500 people employed by WestPoint Home throughout East Alabama and West Georgia . A second Opelika facility, a finishing mill, will continue to operate.