Russell plant to close in Wetumpka

Published 2:12pm Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Russell Brands, LLC announced Wednesday the permanent closure of its facility in Wetumpka and the loss more than 150 jobs.
The plant will begin its “phase down” process around July 29 and will be completed by the end of the year, according to a press release from Fruit of the Loom.
“This decision is in no way a reflection on the dedication and efforts of our associates in our Coosa River operation,” said Bill Tucker, senior vice president of distribution. “This reflects our ongoing efforts to consolidate and streamline operations.”
The 750,000 square foot facility employed 191 employees as a distribution facility, according to John Shivel, senior vice president corporate communications for Fruit of the Loom.
Leisa Finley, interim director of the Elmore County Economic Development Authority, said the employees inflated Spalding basketballs and footballs.
“With the news of Spalding (Russell) leaving the Wetumpka facility, we first are in hopes that the employees and their families will not suffer any hardship due to any displacement or transition in employment,” she said.
State Senators Bryan Taylor (R-Prattville), Dick Brewbaker (R-Pike Road) and Jerry Fielding (R-Sylacauga) have urged Gov. Robert Bentley to deploy the state’s Rapid Response team, which goes on-site to assist workers with obtaining transitional benefits, job relocation and training opportunities.
“We want them to know that our offices are open to provide whatever assistance we can to help these workers — our neighbors — get in touch with the right people who can help them transition into new jobs,” Taylor said.
Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis said he had heard through some rumor mills that the Coosa plant would be closing down, but he had not had any conversations with management from Fruit of the Loom.
“We hate to see anyone lose their job much less see an operation close down in Wetumpka,” he said. “Right now I don’t know what the effects will be.”
Willis said he has already had conversations about moving forward to find a new tenant for the building.
“We are going to go through economic development and other resources to market the building and see what can happen,” he said. “Hopefully we can get something that will materialize for us and keep the workforce here because we certainly need the jobs.”

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