Eufaula plant set to close, 300 jobs to be lost - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Eufaula plant set to close, 300 jobs to be lost

EUFAULA, AL (WSFA) -

Susan Culpepper has accepted the fact her Cajun Corner restaurant will take a cut in business when Cooper Lighting begins its massive layoffs. Cooper Lighting makes decorative lighting for homes and businesses.

"We've catered out there and we have employees come here so we're going to lose that business,' said Culpepper.

Company leaders say they're letting go around 300 employees. The official line is the move is necessary to 'best leverage existing footprint capacity and are required to continue to complete in a globally competitive market,' according to an email statement to WSFA 12 News. The majority of the jobs are going to three cities in Mexico.

Eufaula mayor Jack Tibbs was more candid about the matter. Cooper Lighting, he says, is moving because of cheap labor.

"The average annual salary for one person at the company in Eufaula is $33,000 while in Mexico it's $9,000," said Tibbs.

With this many people about to lose their jobs there will be a ripple effect and it won't be just in the retail. For example, R&R Engineering supplies parts to Cooper Lighting, a company that employs nearly 30 people. This is the 'nightmare' the mayor fears the most; one company's layoffs could very well impact another, layoffs coming at a time when Eufaula was just beginning to gain economic momentum.

"They have a 10 million dollar payroll and those dollars turn over several times in the community," said the mayor.

Mayor Tibbs says he's already contacted state officials for assistance in working with Cooper Lighting employees.

Cooper Lighting is among the three largest employers in Eufaula. They've been in town since 1980 but not for long. Cooper begins moving out this fall.

As for Susan Culpepper she says this will hurt but looks at it this way; tomorrow's another day for Eufaula and the Cajun Corner.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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