Textile maker Milliken to close Georgia plant employing 260

SYLVANIA, Ga. (AP) — A textile manufacturer says it plans to close a plant in eastern Georgia that employs 260 workers.

Milliken & Company announced Wednesday that its operations in Screven County will be phased out and transferred to its plant in Cherokee County, South Carolina, news outlets reported.

“This consolidation benefits our customers with increased capacity and helps us realize key sustainability and operational metrics,” said Kevin Brown, senior vice president of global operations for Milliken’s textile business. He said the company will “make every effort” to find new jobs for Screven County workers who wish to transfer to another Milliken location.

The Screven County plant manufactures finished goods textiles, including engineered flame-resistant textiles, for workwear use. The company operates more than 70 facilities worldwide and will still have 10 in Georgia after closing the Screven County plant.

The plant on the Ogeechee River had a different owner, King America Finishing, in 2011 when more than 30,000 fish died near the facility and further downstream. Regulators never directly tied the plant to the fish kill, but discovered King America had been illegally dumping treated wastewater into the river for years.

King America sold the plant to Milliken in 2014. The Ogeechee Riverkeeper conservation group said in a statement that Milliken made extensive upgrades and improvements to the plant, though it continued to discharge treated wastewater with a government permit.

“It is with mixed emotions that we receive this news, recognizing the long term benefits to the river while acknowledging the social and economic impacts to the community,” Damon Mullis, the riverkeeper group’s executive director said in a statement. “That said, this removes the primary source of industrial effluent into our river.”