Mourning the loss and moving on

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 19, 2003

As word came down Thursday afternoon that Johnston Industries would be closing down the Opp Mill - the oldest continuous industry in Covington County - a collective sigh of disbelief shot through Covington County.

For more than 100 years, this venerable mill has provided jobs to our county, and essentially been the backbone of true industrial activity in the area. In lean years, it was the one that kept working, along with its sister mill, the Micolas Mill.

And while we share in the mourning of the lost jobs, lives changed and lost income; we can't dwell on the past or the sadness.

Instead, we must look forward, at the progress that has been made and could still be made.

The textile industry just isn't what it used to be in Covington County. But, it's not what it used to be in the United States for that matter. Cheaper labor costs and a willingness of companies to move their plants to Honduras, Mexico, the Domincan Republic and the like make fiscal sense. We can't fault them for that.

We must, however, trust our local leaders, and know that they are busy working behind the scenes to secure new jobs - jobs that can't be performed overseas - for our workers.

Covington County has made great strides in branching out economically. There are newer, high-tech industries in the region; with more looking, and some even heavily considering our fine county.

Yes, the loss of the Opp Mill and considerable downsizing of the Micolas Mill will be a tremendous blow to our county's economy - especially the people of Opp. It shouldn't however, be a permanent blow. We can't let it be.

In true Covington County spirit, we will bounce back from this, stronger and more economically diverse than ever.