Area leaders react to Gulf States sale

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 2, 2005

With over 500 employees in the Black Belt area the sale of Gulf States has an effect on many different areas. Many employed at the Demopolis plant commute from Perry, Greene, Hale, and other counties.

At the same time, two Sumter County locations will also be part of the deal. The Livingston Box Company and Rooster Bridge Chip Mill will also feel the effects of the change in ownership.

While change always leaves a feeling of uncertainty local leaders believe this change will probably be for the better.

Kevin Dixon, Chairman of the Linden Industrial Development Board, said he believes the change in ownership could boost the capabilities of the mill and sees a lot of opportunity.

“From our understanding it is going to make the plant a better place to work,” Dixon said. “We are excited about it for Linden, Demopolis and the entire area.”

Dixon said the reputation of past success from a company like Rock-Tenn brings a very positive outlook to the change.

“I sounds like it is going to be a good thing,” Dixon said. “We are all very excited about the possibilities this is going to bring.”

Leadership near the Sumter County plants, which employ 75 workers also felt optimistic about the change.

Livingston Mayor Tom Tartt said they had heard speculation a sale may be in the works, but were not certain until they were given the official work Thursday. Tartt said he had spoken with the management of their local plant and felt confident the change would be positive.

“We had heard about it through the rumor mill for some time and didn’t know what was going to come of it,” Tartt said. “We spoke with the management at the Livingston Box Plant here and they said it didn’t look like there would be any major changes.”

Tartt also said the reputation of Rock-Tenn made everyone feel better about the possibilities on tap. Tartt said the City of Livingston would be more than happy to extend a helping hand.

“Rock-Tenn is a well known company across the United States and we think they will be a good fit,” Tartt said. “We look forward to working with them, offer them our support and hope everything will work out for everyone involved.”

Areas that do not have a physical tie to Gulf States still had a strong economic tie to the company. Many Perry Countians make the trip across Highway 80 each day to work at Gulf States.

Uniontown Mayor Phillip White said their city had a number of people employed by Gulf States and was glad to see a strong local employer get stronger.

“Anytime you are able to make a sale like this and keep an industry in the area it is a positive for all of us,” White said. “Certainly, we in Uniontown welcome Rock-Tenn because we have many people working over there too. We are glad to have them in Demopolis because this is going to be positive for the entire area.”