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Viracon layoff affects 164 Statesboro employees
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    More than 150 employees of one of Statesboro’s largest industries face a layoff effective Monday in light of recent economic crisis.
    Viracon, the largest single source glass fabricator in the country, announced this week 164 employees will be laid off, said Bob Randall, vice president of operations.
    Viracon’s Statesboro plant, located in the Gateway Industrial Park off U.S.  301 South, was built in 1998 and employed 600 workers as of last year. The company is based in Owatonna,  Minnesota and has 2,600 employees company wide.
    “The markets are down,” Randall said. “There is a lot of nervousness” and the local economic dip has affected construction, which affects the glass business, he said.
    The Georgia Department of Labor’s Statesboro Career Center is offering resources for displaced workers, said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond.
    The workers who lost their jobs are also offered severance packages and other resources, Randall said. The severance packages are determined by the employee’s “ years of service.”
    The work force was reduced to 536, the approximate number of employees the company had two years ago, he said.
    Thurmond said labor department representatives and Coastal Workforce representatives were on site at Viracon Tuesday and Wednesday to assist the workers affected.
    Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce President Peggy Chapman expressed concern regarding the layoff.
    “We’re always sorry to see anybody have to lay off employees,” she said. “We hope it’s a short term event they can overcome.”
    Chapman said layoffs for a company such as Viracon occur every seven to 10 years as the economy cycles. “It is a trend ... when there is a downturn in the economy.”
    Randall agreed. “Every six or seven years our construction markets do a dip that lasts 11-24 months, then they have a huge comeback,” he said. “We had (a layoff) of a similar size after 9/11 when the markets did kind of the same thing.”
    The lay off is not an unexpected phenomenon, said Earl Dabbs, chairman of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Development Authority. “Viracon ... has been affected by the business cycle.”
    Randall said in addition to the layoffs, hours worked by employees are changing as well. “Everybody’s being touched by it,” he said.