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New Era talks to continue in Demopolis

Demopolis mayor Mike Grayson said that negotiations regarding the future of the city’s New Era Caps plant would continue in Demopolis early next month.

“We’re going to meet with company officials in the first week of January,” Grayson said. “The governor and state agencies are on board, doing everything we can to help and assist in making that decision.”

“If we can win this project, we would save those 300-plus jobs, plus it would create about 100 more. So, this is a big deal for us. A loss of 300 jobs would probably add another 5 or 6 percent to the unemployment percentage — not just for Demopolis, but for this region.”

On Nov. 19, New Era Caps, based in Buffalo, N.Y., announced that it was planning to consolidate its three manufacturing plants, already stating that the plant in Jackson, would close in 2010.

The question now is: Which plant will also close, the one in Demopolis or the one in Derby, N.Y., located just 20 miles from the company’s headquarters.

“That is an obvious advantage for the Derby plant,” Grayson said. “Some of the advantages that we have are an efficient labor force, the cost per cap is less here and the cost of doing business is a little less here. Also, you’ve got a union in place here in Demopolis that will work with management.

“One of the things going against us is the size of the plant. They’re going to need another 50,000 to 60,000 square feet to be able to house their cutting machines and to have space to hold their raw material inventory and their finished product inventory. They’ve got some concern about the electrical capacity of the plant to house all this new stuff, but we’ve got some room out there we can work with.”

Grayson said that State Rep. A.J. McCampbell, Marengo County commissioners Freddie Armstead and Dr. Ken Tucker and industrial development board chair Mike Marshall and Debra Fox of the Marengo County Economic Development Authority are also working to keep the New Era Caps plant open.

“We’re going to give it the best shot we’ve got,” Grayson said. “I’m optimistic, but I also realize we have a big hill to climb. Also, the local union has been very cooperative on this. They realize that there is a lot at stake here. This is truly a team effort.”