Midlands TV plant says it's closing because of new tariffs

Midlands TV plant says it's closing because of new tariffs

WINNSBORO, SC (WIS) - The Donut Guy doughnut shop in Winnsboro looks small from the outside, but once you're inside, you realize there's something big happening there.

Crystal Paulk, the owner, cooks up the original creations—like a doughnut topped with fruity pebbles and another filled with banana pudding—but she also cooks up something else for the small town that's seen better days. She cooks up hope.

"I'm not a politician, but there has to be a way to find solutions that, at the end of the day, we focus on the core -- we focus on people," she said.

She's talking about yet another dreaded announcement, yet another factory that could be shuttered and overtaken with weeds soon, yet another wave of layoffs.

"These are my neighbors. These are my friends. These are, potentially, this could be me. This could be my brother. This could by my sister kind of thing," Paulk said.

Monday, the VP of a TV manufacturing plant in Winnsboro, Element Electronics, announced it's closing and 126 people—all but eight full time employees—will be laid off.

The letter blamed the sudden closure on the intensifying trade war between the U.S. and China.

"The layoff and closure is a result of the new tariffs that were recently and unexpectedly imposed on many goods imported from China, including the key television components used in our assembly operations in Winnsboro," the company wrote. "We hope the closure will be temporary and that we will be able to re-open in three to six months, but we cannot predict this with any certainty at this time."

The plant will close on Oct 5, 2018, when most employees at the plant will be separated. This will be followed by the separation of smaller groups of employees until the end of the year.

Eight employees will remain at the facility.

This isn't the first painful economic loss for the Winnsboro area. It lost a Mack Truck manufacturing plant in 2002. In recent years, Winnsboro lost its Walmart. Then, a year ago, work ceased on two new reactors at the nearby V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. Thousands of jobs were lost as a result. DuraFiber, a textile plant, also closed its doors last year.

In a county that now boasts the highest unemployment rate in the state, the colorful donut shop—tended to by smiling employees like Paulk—does seem metaphorical:  a beacon of hope in a community that needs it.

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