Winn-Dixie officials say they should know soon whether two Winn-Dixie stores in Columbia County will be sold or closed down.
The Winn-Dixie stores in Columbia County are set to close or be sold. Workers could be relocated if the two stores close their doors.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"That information will be coming within the next few weeks,'' said Dennis Wortham, a communications manager for Winn-Dixie.
The news of the possible Columbia County closings comes in light of Winn-Dixie recently announcing it will sell or close 326 stores in several states as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.
Workers at the two Columbia County Winn-Dixie stores, at 4487 Columbia Road and 366 Furys Ferry Road, deferred all comment to a corporate office.
Wortham said that although he couldn't say exactly how many people work in the two Columbia County Winn-Dixie stores, a typical Winn-Dixie employs between 60 and 70 people.
He said the company is looking to see whether the two Columbia County stores can be sold to another grocery business.
"Of course, our first preference is to sell it to a grocery chain,'' Wortham said. "That way we can work with the new owners to hopefully keep those Winn-Dixie associates employed.''
If that doesn't occur, a second option would be to sell to another business, such as a fitness center.
The third and final option, Wortham said, would be to close the location.
"Unfortunately, if there's nothing that happens as a result of that then the location will most likely be closed,'' he said.
Wortham said his company would consider a relocation for some workers if a closing occurs.
"We make every effort to do that if it's possible for those associates to move if a position opens,'' he said.
If that isn't possible, "if the associate stays on until their ending day, we do provide them a severance and other assistance,'' he said.
For workers who might lose their job, officials at the Georgia Department of Labor have said they will offer any assistance possible.
"This is the first time that we know of that so many communities throughout Georgia have been impacted by mass layoffs by a single company,'' said state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond in a news release.
"I want the workers and their families, as well as the Martinez and Columbia County communities, to know that they are not alone in dealing with this difficult situation. We are prepared to assist them.''
Thurmond said his department is willing to work with employees to help them file unemployment insurance claims and give them access to services that will help get them back to work quickly.
Those in need of help are asked to call the Georgia Department of Labor's Augusta Career Center on Greene Street at 721-3131.
The move by Winn-Dixie also comes as the drugstore chain Eckerd announced it will close two of its Columbia County locations, at 3874 Washington Road and 4475 Columbia Road, later this year because of poor profitability at the locations.
An exact closing date has not yet been determined.
Just as some businesses are leaving the area, one restaurant chain - Chick-fil-A - is moving in. Chick-fil-A has announced it will be locating one free-standing restaurant in Evans this year. The other restaurant has been built in the Atlanta area.
The new Chick-fil-A planned for Evans will be at 4201 Washington Road near the upcoming Target shopping center. The restaurant is projected to be open by early October and will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, said Jerry Johnston, a spokesman for Chick-fil-A, adding that the opening will be a big event.
"We have all sorts of special events around it,'' he said.
The new location is expected to generate about 65 new jobs.
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