By Alton Mitchell
Downsizing continues to plague the city Alexander City in central Alabama after an iconic apparel manufacturer that helped give Alexander City its identity continues to downsize its workforce and now shortly after the passing of the holiday season more than seventy full-time workers have learned they will be without a job in the coming weeks.
Russell Brand which included names like Russell Athletic was a household name in east Alabama for decades. The company that was founded in Alexander City in 1902, but has struggled since the turn of the century and eventually sold out operations to Fruit of the Loom in 2006. Prior to the downfall of the companies operations Russell operated various plants and distribution centers throughout the state including operations in Chambers County.
As downsizing has continued positions have become scarce at what remains of operation in Alexander City. In 2012, there were still about 750 employees at the plant in Alexander City. Today that number is a little over 300, but in the coming weeks it will fall to around 250 employees at the plant which is mostly used for distribution purposes today.
The latest downsizing was announced last Friday as 75 full-time employees at the Alexander City plant were notified their jobs were on the chopping block. Alexander City officials will look for ways to assist those workers who are being displaced by the downsizing.
The news of the layoffs will have an impact on the unemployment rates in Tallapoosa County. According to data from the Alabama Department of Labor in November 2017 the county had 636 individuals out of work giving the county an unemployment rate of 3.5%. The same rate was reported in Chambers County that month. However, the additional 75 individuals who are impacted by the layoffs will push the unemployment rates higher.