We will persevere

Published 7:54 am Friday, October 30, 2009

It took some time for the news to settle in that the Franklin paper mill was actually closing — an end to an era.

I believe many initially thought the news was a rumor, maybe another two-week shutdown due to lack of paper demand, or that it was someone’s cruel joke of the day. If you live in Franklin you know these rumors get passed along rather quickly and, for the most part, are usually unsubstantiated.

Unfortunately, this was not a rumor but our worst-case scenario coming to fruition.

As someone who has a stake in a local small business, I, as many others, am concerned about the economic blow to the area and the remaining businesses within the next year to year and a half. As an eternal optimist, I certainly hold out hope that the outcome will not be as bad as expected and that somehow jobs will be available to those in need.

As I reflect on this bad news, I offer my heartfelt sympathy for those affected directly by this corporate decision. Many friends and family members of friends will have to live through this reality in the coming months.

The mill was the center of support for the local economy and allowed families to live a solid and fulfilling lifestyle for so many years. The shock of this closure is probably the single most repeated feeling I heard on Oct. 22. As the shock lingers, I believe that, despite how hard it will be, we must not let of our disappointment, resentment, denial and anger impede the process of moving forward. We must pick up the pieces of our lives and get back to what makes this community great.

As Winston Churchill once stated, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

We, as a community, must come together with a well-communicated, concise plan to keep this area afloat by attracting new companies to the area. This can be done, as we have a very dedicated work force in the area that can be very attractive to corporations that might show interest. I truly believe the people that I have come to know through community, church and business, involvement have the resolve to keep Franklin a viable and vibrant cornerstone of Western Tidewater.

We are fortunate to live among individuals whom you could describe as the “salt of the earth,” willing to take up a new livelihood and do a great job accomplishing it. It will not be an easy road in the near future, as there are many unknowns, but our community has great leaders and citizens who are capable of achieving great things.

We have many level-headed and competent leaders in local government and within our offices of economic development, City Hall, Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Franklin Association, civic organizations, and other community/business leaders that should — and I fully expect will — come together to brainstorm and hatch plans that will meet our area’s needs and goals. Don’t write us off too soon, as we have faced adversity before. Although we may have a bigger challenge ahead, we are capable of prevailing again.

As a company, Southside Physical Therapy is not going to panic. We will continue to serve our community with an upbeat atmosphere as our patients try to physically rehabilitate from various ailments. This is the least we can do for the community that has supported us for so long and have allowed us to thrive as a small business throughout the years.

I fully expect us to experience some effects of a downturn in the local economy, but I truly believe we will persevere. I hope everyone can stay positive through these trying times and we will reap benefits in the end.

I encourage all of us to keep our heads up and push ourselves forward. I believe everything will be OK and our community will thrive again.

God Bless us all.