Most employees at Wellman's Indian Land office off Hwy. 521 will work their last day on Tuesday, Nov. 18.
Wellman, the latest casualty of an industry hit hard by overseas competition, declared bankruptcy in February. The company, which manufactures and markets polyester products, moved its corporate offices from Charlotte to the Panhandle three years ago.
Some of the 75 employees at the Indian Land officer were offered jobs at the company's new Gulf Coast facility.
The impending closure of Wellman in Indian Land is certainly not good news, according to Keith Tunnell, head of Economic Development for Lancaster County, but there is a silver lining, he said.
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When Wellman moved to the Panhandle in 2005, the company was offered a 95 percent rebate on property taxes in its first year of operation and 65 percent in the second year. Although those obligations have been fulfilled, Wellman will pay its full share for 2008.
Tunnell also said that after Wellman leaves, he's confident he can fill the office space with another company, hopefully one that will bring new jobs to Lancaster County. More than 85 percent of the projects Tunnell works with are company's looking for an existing building, he said.
"Anytime we have office or industrial space open, it usually fills quickly," Tunnell said. "Our problem is usually not having available space."
A new company, especially a call center, could bring new jobs instead of job transfers. When Wellman moved to the Panhandle, most of the jobs were transfers from the Charlotte office, not new positions that could have helped ease unemployment rates in Lancaster County.
"If they do leave and we could get another call center in there, it would be brand new jobs that Lancaster County residents could get," Tunnell said. "That would be an upside. We hate that they have to leave, but it opens another door for an opportunity."
Wellman's Chief Operating Officer, Steve Ates, said he won't know for at least another week how many employees will be transferring to the Gulf Coast location. Employees who are not offered a transfer are working with the company's human resource office and the county One Stop office to find new jobs.
Some employees have already been successful in finding new employment, he added.
Ates himself will be moving to the Gulf Coast facility after 16 years in the Charlotte area. The move will bring him closer to his hometown, he said.
"I just wish it were under better circumstances," Ates said.