Company closing Upstate plant opening prison facility in Greenville Co.

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LAURENS COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – The company running an Upstate plant that will soon close, leaving 120 workers without jobs, has been renovating a facility at a Greenville County prison.

Clinton Mayor Bob McLean said the closure of Shaw Industries just outside the city limits came as a surprise.

“Wasn’t what we’re expecting to hear,” Mayor McLean said of the plant’s closing. “The Anderson family started that in 1946. It was a small family operated business for many years. Maybe 10-15 years ago Shaw Industries, which is a global company, bought them out.”

The Georgia-based flooring company announced Monday that the Laurens County location will close this summer.

Therefore, it’s shifting production to other operations in the southeast.

On Wednesday, Mark Hartline, senior director of human resources at Shaw Industries, issued the following statement saying that Tyger River and Perry Correctional Institutions would take on some of the work:

“We are shifting volume from Plant H5, which unfortunately cannot produce the styles of products consumers desire today, to Plant HW in South Pittsburg, TN, where Shaw has invested significantly in recent years. Tyger River and Perry will also absorb some of the volume,” Hartline said.

The S.C. Department of Corrections tells 7News that as part of their prison industries operation, Shaw has had a long standing contract operating a hardwood flooring plant at Tyger River.

SCDC says the company is renovating facilities at Perry Correctional Institution and is expected to employ about 50 inmates in addition to supervisors from Shaw.

Prison officials said the project has been in the works for almost a year.

Inmates will apply finishing touches to hardwood flooring and Shaw will pay at least minimum wage.

According to SCDC, this program is operated under the guidelines of the federal Prison Industries Enhancement Program, and approval is required from the federal government and the S.C. Department of Commerce to determine that private sector jobs are not displaced by inmate labor.

A spokesperson said they understand the products at Perry are different from the products produced at Shaw’s Laurens County plant, and SCDC learned of the plant’s closing last Friday.

SCDC and Laurens County leaders said they’re working to help displaced workers.

“It’s sad,” Mayor McLean said. “I hate it for them but there’s a lot of opportunities right now in Laurens County.”

Shaw’s Perry facility is in the final stages of approval from various state agencies and is expected to open in February 2020.

There are about 1,200 inmates working in an industry in the SCDC.

Click here to learn more about the prison industries program.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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