Local News

Labor Makes a Comeback with 'Paper' in Halifax County

Posted January 11, 1999

— The state is using another multi-million dollar package to lure a major company. A paper plant is coming toHalifax Countybringing hundreds of much needed jobs.

Abandoned factory parking lots are nothing new in Halifax County. Many of the people who used to park in some of the lots are out of work now.

"For the past several years, we've had downsizing in the textile industry here. We've probably gone from around 2,800 people down to about 1,600. We've had several cut and sew plants to close down," explained Tommy McKnight of the Employment Security Commission.

An isolated sliver of land near Weldon could be the first sign of a labor comeback.

Friday, the Richmond-basedChesapeake Corporationis expected to announce plans for a new paper recycling plant on the spot.

Halifax County needs good-paying jobs. Thecensus bureau's latest figures say that the median income here is just over $21,000. xThat is $7,000 less than the state average and barely half of what workers earn in Wake County.

The first phase of employees here would earn much more than that.

Resident Lee Brinkley has a good job now but says there are not enough in Halifax County to go around.

"A lot of people will be excited because, you know, it's going to keep a lot of people off the streets and help a lot of families who need work," said Brinkley.

Paper plants like one in nearby Roanoke Rapids are famous for smelling up the landscape.

Because the new plant will recycle paper, the company claims its factory will not smell.

State officials say the company has a good environmental record but would have to pass numerous air and water inspections before beginning production.

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