MONTEZUMA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Nearly a hundred people are looking for a new job after a Montezuma food canning plant laid off its employees. Local and state leaders are stepping up to help these former employees get back on their feet.
The Allen's Repack and Distribution Center is a major employer in the Macon county community. But workers there got a shock that shook up the community.
"Wasn't warned, it just hit us," Antonie Rice, a laid off employee who worked for Allen's for seven years said.
"I thought the company was improving and growing," laid off employee LaShondra Hinton said.
A few weeks ago, 92 workers got their pink slips which shocked the area.
"It just hurt me because you know we don't have nothing right here in Macon County, that's the only big plant we have here in Macon County," Scottie Hill, a laid off employee who worked for the food company for 20 years said.
Now out of a job, these former employees say it is hard to make ends meet.
"I have a daughter I have to take care of and raise her," Hinton said.
"There was a lot of families and people out there that was working to support their families here in Macon County and I feel that really kind of hurt the economy cause there was a lot of folks that depended on their job," Rice, who was laid off before the firings, said.
That is when State Representative Patty James-Bentley stepped in to help out. On Wednesday she hosted a community fair.
"This is an opportunity for individuals to apply for unemployment benefits as well as seek job opportunities and hear from other agencies on the various resources that they have to offer to the citizens of Macon County and Montezuma," James-Bentley said.
Representatives from the Georgia Department of Labor were on site to help the laid off employees file unemployment claims and Fort Valley State University brought a semi-truck filled with computers so those attending could look for jobs.
James-Bentley is also working with local and state leaders to come up with a plan for the community's future.
"We're going to continue to work to try to bring other industry and businesses to the Macon County area," she said. "We just need everyone to be patient and let us work together because there is a bright future ahead."
These new job seekers are grateful for the out powering of support.
"I really appreciate the job that they're doing trying to help us get back on our feet," Hinton said.
"We've been through harder times before and we overcame and we're going to overcome this," Rice said. "Keep your heads up and god will find a way for all of us."
According to a letter Allen's filed with the Governor's Office of Workforce Development on July 26th, the company is closing its fresh processing facility. The letter to the state agency states the layoffs are,
caused by unforeseen business issues and circumstances which are sudden, dramatic, unexpected, and outside the control of Allens.
It also says there is,
no provision in the company's policy for transfer, bumping, or reassignment of production employees.
James-Bentley says she'll continue working with the community to help those who were laid off get their lives back together. The City of Montezuma is also helping the newly unemployed by giving extensions and waiving late fees on utility bills.