RUSSELL COUNTY, Ky. (WBKO) -- About 600 people will lose their jobs at the Fruit of the Loom plant in Jamestown, Ky. between June and December. That announcement came today from the company, headquartered in Bowling Green, as it plans to close it's Jamestown plant, relocating it's workload to Honduras.
Russell County has a population of 17,000 and 2,000 of them are employed in manufacturing. 600, which is about one-third of those, work at Fruit of the Loom's Jamestown plant, and by the end of December, all of them will be laid off.
The decision came as a shock to many here in Russell County, including it's leaders.
"I don't know what the deal was, but we had no notification whatsoever, and I was at a meeting where Governor Beshear spoke yesterday and when the meeting was over and I received this notice, I got an opportunity to talk to Governor Beshear personally, and he wasn't aware of anything happening either. It was news to him," said Russell County Judge Executive Gary Robertson.
Even though one Russell County man has been in these employees shoes before, having been employed at the Jamestown Fruit of the Loom plant before the round of layoffs in the 90s, he says the news comes as a shock to him too.
"It just floors me that we keep losing our jobs here in the United States. I don't buy anything that's got Fruit of the Loom's name on it. If their going to send our jobs overseas, I think they ought to sale their products overseas," said Former Fruit of the Loom Employee Laid off in the early 1990s David Barnett.
Robertson says he will be working with the governor to bring new companies and jobs to the area, in an effort to make up for those lost, but Barnett is already losing faith in his leaders.
"I think everybody that's running in this new race... I think we need a change in Russell County with some new people in our county government, even in Adair... in Columbia. I think we need a change. We need ot see some new people. We need to see some new people in Washington," said Barnett.
Robertson says the loss is devastating to the county.
"We're going to lose probably 160 to 180,000 in revenue just from occupational taxes, and things of that nature," said Robertson.
Robertson says it won't affect those in his county alone. He says the plant employees people from the surrounding Adair, Clinton, and Casey counties too.
Robertson says the Cumberland Workforce Area staff plan to meet with employees soon for rapid response sessions that aim to help them find new jobs. We attempted to contact officials at Fruit of the Loom today, but they were not available for comment.