WILKESBORO, NC - After 87 years in the business, upholstered furniture manufacturer Key City permanently closed its North Carolina factory last week, leaving 97 workers unemployed, according to the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.
The decision was made just a week before employees were informed.
Key City officials said they plan to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) status, which makes workforce training, education and other services available for employees who lost their jobs.
Additionally, most of the 97 workers who lost their jobs will also be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
Though it has been said by the spokesperson that the rough economy killed Key City's furniture orders, the company showed signs of life over the past two years.
In late April, Key City was awarded a $40,000 grant from the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center for building improvements totaling $150,000. The improvements were to facilitate moving finishing work from the Key City’s building in North Wilkesboro to the facility on N.C. 268 West.
Just last November, Key City acquired fellow Wilkesboro furniture company Green Bros. And back in 2011 when production of Schnadig's Ralph Lauren line of sofas, chairs and loveseats moved from China to North Carolina, Key City was tapped to produce the items.
However, a year and a half after the Ralph Lauren deal, the company ended its contract with Key City. Production of the line was just about over when Key City made its closing decision.
Even two grants totaling approximately $75,000 for facility improvements couldn't save Key City, said the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.
“Since 2008, we have ratcheted down six times with layoffs and wage reductions and we’ve reduced our footprint (occupancy) in this building to try to make it out of this recession,” added the spokesperson.
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