Georgia-Pacific had originally planned to lay-off more than 400 employees, but thanks to the success of two pilot programs 125 people still have jobs. Trucks are still coming and going at Georgia-Pacific's plant in Whiteville. The company will keep 50 jobs in the lumber mill and 75 in it's plywood operation courtesy two job saving pilot programs, that Georgia-Pacific wouldn't describe for competitive reasons. Spokesperson Julie Davis said, “What I can tell you is that we are glad that we have been able to keep parts of the facility running and at least keep some of our folks employed.> Still the lay-offs leave 275 people without jobs, but that number is an improvement. Many are turning to Southeastern Community College's job link program to gain some perspective and direction. Gloria Perry, job link case manager said, “Whenever they leave they feel like they've been helped, they feel like some of their questions have been answered, they feel like they have enough information to know where they want to start.” She said many are choosing to go back to school for job training. Columbus County director of economic development Justin Smith said they'll be able to put those skills to work in Whiteville. “We are talking with several businesses right now that are in different stages of the site selection process. But they're all interested in locating in the Southeast Regional Park right here off of Highway 74.” As for the future of the Georgia-Pacific plant, Davis said, “We certainly look forward to the time when the housing market improves and we are able to more fully ramp operations back up.” The 125 jobs are about one-fourth of the normal employment at Georgia-Pacific. Smith said Columbus County is happy the company was able to save any jobs at all.
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