Patrick County plant to close at end of year, 160 employees out of work

STUART, Va. (WDBJ7) Employees at a plant in Patrick County learned Tuesday they'll be out of a job at the end of this year.

Shaw Industries-Stuart Flooring announced they'll be closing the plant that's been in Stuart for decades.

160 employees at the flooring plant who live in Patrick County and surrounding counties learned they're most likely out of a job by December or early January.

Shaw Industries Group, Inc. Vice President of Corporate Communications Susan Farris said in an email Tuesday "Shaw continually evaluates the best way to meet customer needs and adapts our operations accordingly. As demand for flooring products shifts, Shaw is adjusting its solid hardwood production capacity. This realignment will result in the closure of the company’s solid hardwood manufacturing facility in Stuart, Virginia, known as Plant HT. Production at this facility will continue through December 2017 or early January 2018.

"The company will continue to operate its three other solid hardwood manufacturing facilities and remains committed to bringing fresh styling and design to customers with multiple product introductions planned for 2018."

While employees got the news Tuesday, Town of Stuart members learned Monday, and were shocked by the news.

"It really makes you sick," Town Manager Terry Tilley said. "I've been with the Town for 39 years and I've seen companies come and go but this one was one that really was detrimental to the town. But my main concern was the employees, that's what really hurts."

The company said they're willing to help the employees, saying in the email, "Impacted Shaw associates will be given the opportunity to relocate to other Shaw facilities should they choose."

But Town and County leaders said many of the employees were born and raised in the area and don't want to leave.

So Tilley was asked if he believed there were enough open positions throughout the area to cover 160 jobs.

He responded, "Our unemployment rate was down around 4%. This is really going to step it up a lot now. I really don't know, I don't know whether there would be enough opportunities here to take that many on right at this time."

The other big loss for the Town and County is the taxes and bills this facility paid to run.

But it's not just the employees at Shaw who will suffer. Without the income, local restaurants and shops will suffer too, especially since the hospital here in town just closed putting 120 employees out of work. That's nearly 300 workers total by the end of the year who lost their jobs.

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