Cochran’s largest employer, which celebrated its 37th anniversary about two weeks ago, will be downsizing during the next 12 months.
Conyers-based Lithonia Lighting, which is owned by Acuity Brands, will be moving part of its operation out of the Cochran plant which opened in 1973, said Racquel Wright, manager of corporate communications for Lithonia.
“(Tuesday) we did announce the intent to move part of our manufacturing operations from the Cochran facility to other facilities in our manufacturing network,” Wright said. “This action is actually connected to our streamlining program announced back in 2008. ... We will continue to operate over the next 12 months and during that time work will continue to be produced.”
The company makes commercial and industrial lighting products, and the Cochran 509,000-square-foot facility is one of 10 manufacturing plants the company has in North America, she said. The company has not yet determined which of its products will be moved and which will remain, she said.
Wright declined to say how many people work at the plant or how many would be laid off.
“It’s just one of the pieces (company officials) decided not to disclose at this time because we are in the midst of the decision bargaining process with the (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers),” Wright said.
However, a woman who identified herself as an employee of the company called The Telegraph and said workers were called into a meeting Tuesday and were told that 400 people would be laid off because of the economy.
Kathryn Fisher, CEO of the Cochran-Bleckley County Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday evening that she was aware of the company’s plans.
“All I know is some jobs are moving to another site, but they are not closing the place down,” Fisher said. “They are right at about 800 (employees).”
Fisher said Lithonia is Cochran’s largest employer.
“Should we lose Lithonia Lighting, we would be devastated,” she added. “They have meant so much to our community for 37 years. But we still have high hopes that they are not going to close — that they will still be with us.”
Wright said the company would work with the Georgia Department of Labor to assist any displaced workers.
“The employees will receive salary continuation assistance and we will provide outplacement assistance,” she said.
Business editor Harold Goodridge contributed to this report.
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.