DUNN — Pink slips are going out and shaking up the small Harnett Countytown of Dunn. The Champion facility there will soon close for good, leaving hundreds of workers in search of jobs.
Employees said the announcement came Wednesday morning, but many of them had been expecting it for a few months.
Champion is not the first textile giant to leave the area for another country. Many of the jobs will be going to Mexico, part of a growing trend in our state.
Champion is well-known for its high-quality athletic wear. Much of that clothing is made in Dunn.
But that is about to change. The company's owners announced that they are closing the Dunn plant to trim costs. A few of the 400 employees will be sent to other locations in Winston-Salem and Scotland County, but most will have to look for new jobs.
One employee said she will have to look for work, but plans to take advantage of company benefits in the meantime.
In the news release, Champion says it is extremely difficult to make a decision to close a facility. But the company says it is clear they have excess manufacturing capacity and must consolidate production operations in order to remain competitive.
Local business leaders hope the hundreds of laid off employees can find new jobs nearby.
"We really hate it for the employees," said Tammy Williams of the Dunn Chamber of Commerce.
"We hate that they are going to be displaced. We're hoping with the unemployment situation like it is now, that they can be absorbed into the market. We're sure that the agencies we have locally are going to get busy putting these people back to work," Williams said.
The first of the layoffs will not begin until December. The plant will be closed down by March 1.