COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Omnova Solutions has made Columbus home for almost half a century. After a long battle with labor unions, and several layoffs, manufacturing has finally ceased at the plant.
For some the closing Friday is bittersweet. It’s a change that many saw coming. Some braced for the worst, while others held on too long hoping for a positive change.
I raised my family out of this plant and it cost money to do that. I bought a home and bought cars and sent one of my sons to college.
Many who worked at Omnova through the years share similar stories. But when drastic changes needed to be made in May of 2010 most workers either retired or went on strike. Since then, 170 hourly workers lost their jobs, and more changes or on the way. Friday was the last day of manufacturing at the plant. Most knew, it was only a matter of time.
Jimmy Lanier a long time employee with Omnova says, “Now day in times you have to manage better and I think that’s where we got in trouble in the way we manage stuff. Not just from a union standpoint but also from a company standpoint.”
At the start of business on Friday, Omnova employed 90 people at it’s Columbus operation. By the end of the day, that number was reduced to 50. Company higher ups say the plant will operate strictly as a distribution center for now.
LINK C.E.O. Joe Max Higgins says, “The fact that it’s on a two lane HWY with no access to get out to a four lane is probably our biggest challenge. With Severestal here and access to the rail you could bring some fabrication in.”
Some of the positives include water and sewer capacity. And with a Columbus Light and Water sub station near by the area has plenty of electricity to handle new industry.