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Hope Hull#039;s Liz Claiborne plant to close

Liz Claiborne officials announced this week that their Hope Hull textile plant will be closing "in approximately 60 days." Approximately 340 employees will be affected by the closing.

In a statement released by the company this week, officials said the reason for the facilitys closing is "changes in our sourcing strategies and customer requirements." The statement claimed that those "changes" have "prompted us to rethink our network from a geographical perspective."

Officials said severance packages and outplacement services will be offered to the employees of the plant and that individual counseling and a two-day job placement workshop will be open to the employees.

The statement also said that "work from the facility is being redistributed to our other facilities throughout the country."

On Wednesday Governor Don Siegelman activated the State's Rapid Resource Team, which provides priority assistance to those who will lose their jobs due to the closing of the Liz Claiborne plant. The funds are administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) and the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations (ADIR).

The release by Gov. Siegelman Wednesday, "Rapid Response is the initial information-sharing activity to facilitate access to all public programs to help people find new jobs. It coordinates meetings with displaced workers and representatives of various state and federal programs, including public insurance (ALLKids and Cobra), pension and welfare benefits available through the U.S. Department of Labor and job and/or skills training programs offered through area community colleges."

The team also "provides financial and technical advice and coordinates efforts with economic development agencies and local communities."

DIR will provide a number of benefits and services to the displaced employees, such as up to 26 weeks of unemployment compensation benefits. The maximum compensation, according to the release, is $210 per week and is determined by a displaced employee's wage base period earnings, which are the wages an individual earned during a specific one-year period. The money is also state tax-free.

DIR also administers the Alabama State Employment Service, which provides job search services.

The Montgomery CareerLink Office also is available to the displaced employees. The office provides job seekers with information on different occupations. For more information about CareerLink, call (334) 288-0326.

The Rapid Response Team also is planning to meet with the affected workers to provide assistance and share information about available state and federal resources.