City acts wisely to protect Shaw jobs

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 30, 2002

It looks like big business is getting another break that the average Joe isn't - but then, looks can be deceiving. Tuesday night, the Andalusia City Council approved an agreement that would allow Shaw Industries to be billed as an

"interruptable" account - one which would exchange the inconvenience of the occasional interrupted service with lower rates. According to the mayor, it could save Shaw industries as much as $2 million a year.

It could also cost the city thousands….

Until you look at the big picture. Shaw is looking to install a new extruder to replace an outdated model. The new equipment will require more power, therefore will cost more to operate. The company also has the option of placing the new equipment in another plant - in Georgia, perhaps, where the electricity costs are not as high. Wherever they put the new extruder, the old one is still going - and so will the 375 workers whose jobs revolve around it.

The loss of 375 jobs at Shaw could mean the loss of around $8 million dollars to the community - a devastating loss, compared to the pittance the city stands to lose by this agreement. That $8 million doesn't include the "turnover" dollars - those salaries spent and redistributed within the community. One standard multiplies the earned dollar by 6 or 7 to determine turnover dollars - which means the aggregate loss could range into the tens of millions.

Our industrial board works hard recruiting industries – thousands of dollars can be easily spent in luring new companies. Why should we spend less keeping our residents employed?

We have to commend the council for this decision, Shaw, for looking for alternatives, and AEC for their willingness to participate in the agreement, especially, since they have other factories and other municipalities to answer to.

Seems like the average Joe does get a break every now and then. The entire city will benefit - 375 workers and their families in particular.