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Easley Announces Rapid Response For Pillowtex Closing

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley announced Wednesday a comprehensive response strategy for the closing of Pillowtex facilities in Cabarrus, Rowan and Rockingham counties.

Pillowtex announced Wednesday that it is filing for bankruptcy and closing its 16 textile manufacturing and distribution facilities. Pillowtex is a Kannapolis-based home-textiles company.

"We are frustrated by the continuation of federal trade policies that are wreaking havoc on textile and manufacturing communities like Kannapolis and Eden," Easley said. "But now is the time for North Carolina to pull together to support those in need, as we do so well in times of crisis. We are used to dealing with natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and ice storms, but now we are dealing with a storm created by Washington.

"My administration has worked around the clock for the past few months, working with Pillowtex management, labor unions and potential buyers to avoid this day. But I want workers to know that my administration and our local partners are committed to doing all we can to help Pillowtex workers, their families and their communities throughout this painful transition. We are going to do all that we can to prevent future plant closings that are being caused by destructive federal trade policies. Washington must stop exporting American jobs overseas. While textile, apparel and furniture jobs count for five percent of North Carolina's total employment, they account for all of the state's net job loss since the beginning of 2001."

Given the scale of job loss and the impact of these plant closings on Kannapolis, Eden and their surrounding regions, the Governor has formed a state-level Rapid Response Team charged with helping displaced workers and affected communities to recover from the Pillowtex closing. The state team, led by N.C. Department of Commerce Secretary Jim Fain, will be made up of high ranking officials from the Division of Employment and Training, the Employment Security Commission, the North Carolina Community College System office and the Department of Health and Human Services. The team will work with all partners including Pillowtex management, union representatives, other state agencies, local community colleges, local government and other local service providers. This same assistance has been provided in other communities experiencing significant job losses.

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