Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Piedmont county loses technology jobs, but two old furniture industries find a way to keep going

We reported here that rural counties that rely heavily on manufacturing jobs have suffered some of the highest rates of unemployment in the country. That trend looked likely to continue last week in Henry County, Virginia, when GSI Commerce, a Pennsylvania-based e-commerce and multichannel services company, announced that it would close its call center, eliminating all 279 jobs.

Henry County and the rest of the Piedmont have seen much of their furniture manufactring industry disappear in the last few years, but two area furniture companies are bucking the trend. "Jobs will be created and saved when furniture makers American of Martinsville and Barcalounger team up in Henry County and Martinsville during the next two to three months." reports Duncan Adams of The Roanoke Times. The merger will create 94 full time jobs and save 121.

According to Hancock Park Associates, the parent company for both American and Barcalounger, the merger is designed to cut costs and increase effiency. But the news of job creation and security is welcome for two areas with high unemployement. "Martinsville's jobless rate for February was the state's highest, at 20.2 percent," writes Adams. "Henry County's unemployment rate was 14.6 percent." (Read more)

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