The employees live in St. Martinville, New Iberia and Loreauville as well as Jeanerette, said Jeanerette Mayor Arthur Verret.
“The whole area is affected,” Verret said. “It will affect our property taxes and the general economy as well as those employees directly affected.”
The announcement of the permanent closure of Jeanerette Mills came as a surprise, the mayor said.
The Kentucky-based company leases the Jeanerette facility, which was a cut-and-sew plant like St. Martinville’s Martin Mills, and became a distribution center after Fruit of the Loom began exporting jobs overseas.
“We’ll be looking for a tenant, but it’s a big facility,” he said. “Not as big as Martin Mills but large enough where we might have to several tenants to take it over.”
The closure of Martin Mills back in 1997 cost the area several thousand jobs. That facility, nearly a million square feet under roof, remained vacant for several years. The current occupier, Louisiana System Built Homes, has gone bankrupt.
“The decision is the result of continued consolidation efforts by the company to remain competitive in a global market,” James Dodwell,
Fruit of the Loom vice president of distribution, said in a press release.