More Layoffs in South Mississippi

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - This week, SABIC Innovative Plastics in Hancock County laid off more than a third of its employees.

The company makes parts for the automobile, electronics and housing industries. Those are the same industries that are suffering in this challenging economy. That's why the plastics company had no choice but to reduce its workforce.

"You just wonder, how much more people down here along the Gulf Coast can take," said Hancock County Supervisor Rocky Pullman. "They have been truly tested."

The company laid off 45 of its 120 employees, but not before exhausting all other options.

"We asked employees to help us identify ways to reduce costs and we implemented many of the ideas over the last several months. But, unfortunately, the worsening economy requires us to take additional actions," said Diane Desporte with SABIC.

"It's ironic that three and a half years ago these people lost everything that they owned and now they lose their jobs on top of that, so it's devastating," said Pullman.

Pullman said he understands the company's actions and is optimistic President Obama's stimulus package will help companies like SABIC.

"Hopefully it will start impacting some of the things that these plants manufacture," said Pullman.

The Executive Director of the Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission, John Zink, said the recent layoffs at SABIC are unfortunate. However, it's not the trend in Hancock County.

"Our other anchor industries in the port are actually doing pretty well," said Zink. "They feel strong through 2009. In fact, many of the plants are sold out throughout the year."

There are more than 20 industries in the Port Bienville Complex.

Zink said companies like Wellman and PSL North American hope to increase their workforce by the end of the year, creating more employment opportunities for South Mississippians.

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