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Olan Mills Inc. left pension fund $41 million shy

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CHATTANOOGA, TN. (Times Free Press) -- Olan Mills Inc. was one of Chattanooga's biggest successes, going from a woodshed darkroom 80 years ago to a multimillion-dollar network that became the nation's largest family portrait company.

But the company -- hit by the rise of the digital age and a shaky economy, and just a fraction of the size it was two decades ago -- was sold last year with a majority of the proceeds plowed into an employee pension fund that still has a $41.2 million shortfall, records show.

The federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which rescues underfunded company pension plans, earlier this year stepped in to make sure nearly 4,300 former Olan Mills employees and retirees aren't denied the pensions they are owed, officials said.

The rescue is one of the biggest, if not the largest, of a Chattanooga private company's pension plan by the federal agency, according to an expert.

Read more on the story from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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