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Posted: 3:52 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, 2013
LINCOLNTON, N.C. —
Reality set in Friday for dozens of workers at a Lincolnton furniture plant that is closing its doors.
“I've never been unemployed before. I've always had a job,” said former employee Bob Preston.
Eyewitness News found 60-year-old Preston reluctantly filing for unemployment the day after news that the nationally acclaimed Lincolnton Furniture Company would shut down.
“I just don't want to have to be on unemployment. I don't want welfare. I just want to work. That's all I have done, all my life,” Preston said.
He accepted a job as a line worker almost one year ago.
It was at about the same time that President Barack Obama hailed owner Bruce Cochrane for starting a promising business in an industry rocked by recession.
“We were working overtime when I first started that, and it just started getting slower and slower, and finally we are building furniture that wasn't even selling,” Preston said.
Last November, Gov. Bev Perdue recognized Lincolnton Furniture as one of the companies bringing jobs back to America. It was expected to expand to 160 workers.
But Thursday, Preston and roughly 50 other workers were told management could not find investors to keep the doors open.
“Now what am I going to do? I gotta go look for a job,” Preston said. “Hopefully there are some out there to get."
The company brought so much positive attention to Lincolnton, the mayor called it a symbol of hope.
“It certainly seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring manufacturing back,” Mayor John Gilleland said.
He said the city got tens of thousands dollars in property taxes on the equipment in the plant -- money that could now be lost.
“So that certainly will not be very good,” Gilleland said.
The owner said he is working to save what's left of the business. He said he is in dialogue with some, but would not say who they are or if they hope to buy the company or become partners.
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