Society Hill plant closure affects 126 employees

Society Hill plant closure affects 126 employees

SOCIETY HILL, SC (WMBF) - Galey & Lord announced plans to shut down by the end of May, Plant Manager Mel Francisco confirmed.

Francisco said the company could not overcome its latest setback, however, he couldn't specify exactly what kind of setback that was.

He said the plant employs 126 people and those employees were notified of the closure last week. The company is very sorry for any difficulties this causes the employees and wishes those employees the best, he said.

Francisco said the Society Hill plant is the company's only location, which at one time employed more than 1,000 people, and was a leader in the textile industry.

Francisco said the plant will finish its orders for its clients to the best of its ability.

Society Hill Mayor Tommy Bradshaw said Galey & Lord first opened in the 1960's, but the history of textile manufacturing in the town goes back hundreds of years.

"David Rogerson Williams established the first textile plant in this Pee Dee section of the state and probably one of the very first in the state in 1812 and it existed for about 25 years," Bradshaw said.

When Mayor Tommy Bradshaw first got into office two years ago, he said Galey & Lord executives talked with him about an expansion.

"They had plans at that time to establish a sewing plant, which I thought that would be great news for a source of employment," Bradshaw said.

However, that never panned out, and Bradshaw had been hearing rumors of a possible closure for a while.

"It'll be a bad economic impact for the town and the surrounding communities, Darlington, Hartsville, Cheraw," he said.

Society Hill has experienced some financial difficulties and debt in recent years.

"That's the reason I ran for the mayor and we've been able to by tightening our budget and by being good stewards of the town resources," Bradshaw said. "We've gotten out of debt. We no longer owe the state assessments anything. We no longer owe anyone anything."

Bradshaw is confident this Galey & Lord shutdown won't throw the town off track with its finances again.

He said he's already heard of some talks of another textile company being interested in moving into the building.

"I'm hoping, strongly hoping, that there can be some reaching of an agreement to open it back up, so while this is an end, I'm hoping for a beginning," he said.

Francisco couldn't confirm any sort of plans for the future of the building.

The letter from Galey & Lord to employees, which Bradshaw also received, explains the shutdown process will happen between April 29 and May 12. The company promised to pay its employees what they would've made through May 28. The plant will be closed by the end of May.

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