Monday, August 31, 2009

Hard times hit tiny Alma, Georgia

The closing of local Pilgrim’s Pride facilities last month also caused the shutdown of a plant in Alma. American Proteins, Inc. (API) closed on May 17, leaving almost 20 people out of a job in Bacon County.

According to Stan Gudenkauf, the company processed poultry by-products, the majority of which were supplied by Pilgrim’s Pride, at the Alma plant. Gudenkauf said there was “no way” to keep the plant open after the Pilgrim’s Pride shutdown.

“We made a specialty product at the Alma plant,” said Gudenkauf. “We used edible parts of the chicken to make chicken mill for pet food, a better grade product than what we make here at our Cuthbert plant.”

The Pilgrim’s Pride closing has affected the Cuthbert plant as well. “Other parts of the chicken from the Douglas plant were brought here and processed so it affected us too.”

Gudenkauf said that API would like to open their Alma plant again. “We need someone to buy the Pilgrim’s Pride plant to provide us with those by-products. Hauling them from Douglas to Alma was freight-efficient for our company.”

JoAnne Lewis, Executive Director of the Douglas-Coffee County Economic Development Authority, said that the closing of Pilgrim’s Pride would create a domino effect.

Lewis stated that a recent study conducted by Georgia Southern University estimated that the closing of Pilgrim’s Pride would affect around 3,800 jobs in this region of south Georgia.

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