Local News

Hundreds of Wilson County Jobs Headed To Florida

Posted July 28, 2004 7:14 a.m. EDT

— Last month, unemployment rose in 90 of North Carolina's 100 counties. In Wilson County, almost one out of every eight people is without a job. Its job market is about to take another blow.

Cox Target Media Inc. announced it will move a Valpak Coupon printing plant from Elm City to Florida in two years.

With that move, 430 more jobs will disappear from Wilson County.

"There aren't any jobs here, so I don't know what to do except stay in school and get some more training," said Carmen Best.

A year ago, Best and nearly 600 of her fellow employees found out their jobs were cut from the VF Jeansware plant in Wilson.

Best is now on unemployment and is back in school working on her diploma. She is the sole provider for her daughter and four grandchildren.

"Moneywise, it's been rough because I was making twice as much as I get now," Best said.

While many of the laid-off workers are re-training for new jobs, economic developers are staying busy trying to bring more companies to the area so workers can stay in Wilson County.

"Finding and bringing in new jobs is critical to the future of the community," said Jennifer Lantz, Wilson economic development executive director.

Lantz says the

Economic Development Council

is marketing Wilson County worldwide, but says thd area has some challenges that can make it tough to compete.

"The road system, the basic infrastructure system in eastern North Carolina, needs tremendous improvement," she said.

Gov. Mike Easley, who has made dozens of job announcements over the past couple months, says Wilson is not forgotten.

Best hopes more jobs will arrive before before she has to apply again.

The Employment Security Commission says Wilson County's job rate should pick up some with more seasonal tobacco workers next month.

A Japanese company is also expected to bring 75 new jobs to the area in the next three years.