Work together for results

Published 8:24 am Friday, November 13, 2009

The recent announcement that International Paper Co. is in the process of closing the Franklin mill has certainly left this community reeling.

Naturally, company employees are highly anxious about their futures. Also, the larger community is anxious. The ripple effect of the mill closing will be felt not only in the immediate area surrounding the mill but also throughout the entire western part of Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina.

Earlier curtailment of production at the mill and the closing of Franklin Equipment Co. on Jan. 1 have already been felt. Unless something dramatic happens, when the paper mill finally closes next year, a very high percentage of our area’s manufacturing jobs will be gone, and the economic impact will be enormous.

Various local, state and federal agencies have pledged their best efforts in addressing the needs of our citizens during these challenging times. We should all encourage and support those agencies in their endeavors.

Speaking for and to the membership of the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce, I believe that it is important that we diligently practice what the Chamber’s core mission is — to do business with our business neighbors within our various communities. Businesses that are not Chamber members are encouraged to practice this same principle.

John Smolak, president of Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc., has pledged its expertise in making sure that potential business investors are aware of the various attributes of our area, including the availability of outstanding former International Paper employees.

We at the Chamber will cooperate with and support Franklin-Southampton Economic Development and all other organizations and agencies in our common objective to bring about increased economic development of our region. We welcome opportunities to work with governments in Southampton County, Isle of Wight County and the City of Franklin.

We welcome dialogue and cooperative efforts with our Chamber counterparts in Isle of Wight County and the City of Suffolk, as well as other Chambers in our region, including our neighbors in North Carolina.

We will continue to support our area school systems. It is important that we let it be known that we in the business community are willing and able to work with the schools in developing programs that will enhance technical and academic skills in graduating seniors who are looking for employment.