Governor Sending Team To Clarke County To Deal With Job Cuts

JACKSON, Miss. -- Gov. Ronnie Musgrove says the state is sending an emergency response team to help Clarke County deal with losing 850 jobs at a Burlington Industries textile plant.

He said Friday that officials will help people file for unemployment benefits and seek new jobs. Staff members from Musgrove's office and the Mississippi Development Authority will be in Clarke County next week.

Burlington announced Thursday that it will close the east Mississippi plant by March 31 as part of layoffs that will affect 4,000 jobs in the United States and Mexico. The company filed for bankruptcy protection last year.

Several other plant closings have been announced in Mississippi in recent months. Emerson Motors, Lafayette County's largest manufacturer, said this week it will close its Oxford plant by the end of the year. The dishwasher and clothes dryer motor plant employs 500, and layoffs will begin within two months.

MDA and the governor's staff organized job fairs in Winston and Jackson counties after plant closings there last year. Musgrove said the state will take similar steps in Clarke County.

Clarke County had a 15.2 percent unemployment rate before the Burlington shutdown was announced - one of the highest jobless rates in the state.

In September Nazareth/Century Mills in Quitman closed, laying off 200 workers.

State officials are counting on a Nissan plant under construction in Madison County to help revive Mississippi's economy. The plant is scheduled to open in 2003, creating up to 4,000 jobs. Nissan is also spurring job growth as suppliers move into Mississippi. Musgrove has said the state also needs to help smaller employers survive.

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