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|Factory building for sale|
The owner of a garment factory built in 1956 is now actively looking for new tenants.
Larry Hebert told Mayor Jack Hammon he had listed the site for sale or lease with numerous economic development agencies around the state but said he expected to receive very little response because the building has low ceilings.
"The building was designed as a garment plant and is not suitable for most industries," said Hebert. "Right now, we're open to ideas, whatever they may be."
During the heyday of textile production in northeast Louisiana, garment factories in Winnsboro, Mangham and Columbia employed some 600 people.
The Winnsboro plant was built in 1956 on land donated to the city by the Winnsboro Businessmen's Association. In 1964, Sustan Garments received a tax grant to expand, adding a warehouse to the facility.
The property again changed hands when the factory became part of the Stahl-Urban Company until, finally, it became the LaSevilla Fashions factory.
A leaking roof in 1999 saw a second outlay of public funds - some $248,000 to replace a leaking roof.
However, public handouts were not enough to save the factory and its 200 jobs.
As times changed and garment manufacturing shifted to Asia, the factories closed.
Hebert said he was sorry to see the plant's final tenants, LaSevilla Fashions, to pull up and move to Taiwan, but said plant bosses sacrificed profits to remain in Winnsboro until, finally, it became too difficult to find business.
"I really hate to see it close, but I also understand that this is part of the changing world economy," Hebert told the council. "I just wish this cheap labor would reflect in the shelf prices that we pay for finished goods."
Hebert blamed the plant's demise on outsourcing textile jobs to China and Taiwan, where labor is pennies on the dollar of what American workers are paid.
"There is just no way that a company can compete in that situation," Hebert said.