Originally created 05/04/01

King Mill to shut down today



King Mill, which has operated in Augusta since 1882 along the Augusta Canal, is closing its doors immediately, throwing more than 300 people out of work, according to sources who work at the mill.

The announcement was made abruptly Thursday as workers were told not to return to work today.

The mill made cotton textiles for hospital use.

Two supervisors, who asked not to be identified, said word of the closing came via e-mail from company headquarters in Spartanburg, S.C., saying that as of 8 a.m. today the plant would be officially closed.

Workers were told of the closing when they arrived at work Thursday. They were told they could work through their shift or leave.

However, by the time third shift began at 11 p.m., word had spread and most workers were only coming in to pack up their belongings.

Company officials in Augusta and Spartanburg could not be reached late Thursday, but the supervisors said there had been talk of financial problems for some time.

"It had kind of been brewing that the bills weren't getting paid," one of the supervisors said. However, production had been up recently and the company had more orders than it could fill.

The supervisors said the reason for the closing was that a bank foreclosed on a loan. The property had been used as collateral.

An overseas company has been talking about buying the mill, but that apparently did not happen before the bank foreclosed.

"We'd like to say we have a slim chance to come back," one of the supervisors said.

Kevin Shea, senior vice president of economic development for the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, said he was unaware of the closing.

Mayor Bob Young said that if the company filed a notice with the state Department of Labor, he did not get a copy.

"It's sad," he said, adding the effect on the city will be "not a positive one."

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 823-3227.