2007-03-28 / Front Page

Thurmond to speak at chamber banquet

State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond will speak at the Millen/Jenkins County Chamber of Commerce annual banquet Thursday, March 29. The banquet will be held at 7 p.m. in the Jenkins County Agriculture Center. Tickets, which include a meal, may be purchased at the chamber office for $10 each.

Thurmond's speech comes as the area is confronting the impact of the decision by Jockey International, the area's third largest employer, to cease operations at its knit underwear plant in Millen. The company notified the labor department on March 15 that it would immediately begin eliminating all remaining positions at the plant, affecting 59 workers. The company laid off 203 employees last fall.

"The decision by Jockey management to close the plant in Millen essentially means that those employees must find new jobs," said Thurmond. "When the first layoffs were announced, we immediately established a transition center in Millen to assist the Jockey employees, as they search for new jobs and plan their futures. I'm very pleased that some of the workers have found employment. Also, more than half of the employees already laid off have entered training for new skills, or have decided to further their education, which will certainly help them get jobs."

Paula Herrington, the executive director for Millen/ Jenkins County Chamber of Commerce and head of the local development authority, remembers well the day she learned about the layoffs, and to whom she turned for help.

"I immediately contacted the Georgia Department of Labor and within 30 minutes I had a representative from the department here," said Herrington. "I was desperate, and through all of this Commissioner Thurmond has helped us tremendously. I've heard him speak, and he's such a good speaker with an uplifting message that I think this is an ideal time for him to address our chamber."

The Georgia Department of Labor's Jenkins County Career Transition Center is located in The Millen News Building at 856 Cotton Ave. It's open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.

At the transition center, labor department personnel conduct job search and resume workshops, and provide career counseling and a wide range of employment-related services. Local work force partners providing assistance include the East Central Georgia and Richmond-Burke Workforce Investment Boards.

The Millen area is served by the labor department's Augusta Career Center, located at 601 Greene St. The telephone number is (706) 721-3131. Affected workers may get assistance from any of the department's 53 career centers throughout the state. A complete listing of the centers is available at www.dol.state.ga.us .

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