Neighbors in need of support

Published 9:48 pm Friday, October 23, 2009

There is little doubt Thursday’s decision by International Paper to shutter the Franklin mill and, as a result, lay off more than 1,100 workers, will have long-term ramifications in that town.

But, that decision and its effects are not limited to Franklin, Isle of Wight County and nearby areas. The shutdown and layoffs will impact communities and residents throughout the Tidewater area.

For instance, more than 10 percent of those to be laid off call Suffolk home. For those 139 men and women – our neighbors – the next three months will be spent worrying about their future, finding employment and working to find ways to care for their families.

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Although the news was described as “devastating” and some have said this decision is an economic death knell for Franklin, history is on the side of this long-standing mill town.

In its history, Franklin has seen floods only to rebound and rebuild. In its history, Franklin has suffered from severe storms and hurricanes, only to rebound and rebuild. In its history, Franklin has struggled with economic shifts tied to the sale of the mill by Union Camp, only to rebound and grow.

Thursday’s announcement may be the worst of all of those events, but those who call Franklin home and those who have worked at the Franklin mill have a history of determination and resourcefulness. We expect them — as they have done each time faced with a struggle — to overcome, rebound and rebuild.

Franklin and Isle of Wight are not alone in this struggle. We all have felt the ripples — nay, the tidal wave — from this decision, and we will join our neighbors in finding a way to come back stronger than ever.