Dalton plant relocates jobs out of the area
DALTON, GA. (WRCB) -- Commuters who travel the streets of Dalton will find a number of vacant factories and business facilities. Beaulieu of America will soon be added to the bunch.
"With the housing market still in its dull spell, I think they realized they just have to cut more capacity going forward," said Dalton Mayor David Pennington.
On Friday the company announced it would stop operations at one of its facilities in Dalton by the end of the year and take about 170 local jobs with it. The company reports approximatley 5,000 employees total.
The majority of jobs, as well as the plant's production, will be transferred to other plants according to the company.
"We're deeply concerned because the plants they've closed in the past have been mostly around Dalton, not in Dalton and these actually are inside the city," Pennington said.
Whitfield County's unemployment rate is just above 12 percent, one of the highest in the region. However, Pennington says he knows how to get jobs and businesses back to the carpet capitol.
"We're continuing to cut our property taxes. They're the biggest property tax payers and we're also trying to get back to a nickel sales tax which will save them hundreds of thousands of dollars on their energy purchases," Pennington explained.
However, Joel Goldberg, who's running against Pennington for mayor, says not so fast.
"No property taxes would attract individuals here perhaps, but it's not going to really attract companies here. Its not going to bring new jobs into this town...Carpet has been our only industry, forever. That has been our only industry and we need to diversify the industry," Goldberg said.
However, Pennington says that's easier said than done.
"We're the only state in the south that taxes energy that goes into manufacturing and that hurts us attracting manufacturing to Georgia," adds Pennington.
While the two may not agree about taxes they do agree on one thing, Dalton needs jobs fast.
"Better days are ahead, unfortunately we got to weather this storm to get to the better days," Pennington said.
In early Oct. Shaw Industries announced it was also closing one of its Dalton plants and taking about 270 jobs out of the city. It is not yet clear if both of these plant closings will significantly impact Whitfield County's 12.1 percent unemployment rate.