Florida's Workforce Ambassadors
Capital Regional Medical Center
Portia Huston, President & CEO
In spring 2009, Terry Ellis, manager of the WestPoint Home plant in Chipley, faced the difficult task of telling his employees that they would soon be out of work; operations were being transferred to Mexico. He, too, called on the Employ Florida network for help. With training programs and other assistance accessed through the Chipola Regional Workforce Board and Workforce Florida Inc., Ellis and his staff were able to reduce costs and increase production enough to demonstrate the value of not only keeping their facility open, but of consolidating the operations of another WestPoint plant at the Chipley site.
No Florida jobs were lost. Today, WestPoint’s Chipley-based workforce consists of more than 600 employees, nearly double the number of employees in spring 2009. Ellis credits the Employ Florida network for helping WestPoint create new Florida jobs and support job training so it could remain globally competitive. “The Chipola Regional Workforce Board has been there to help us every step of the way,” Ellis says. “They were there to help our employees on the day that we made the announcement that the plant was going to close, and now they have helped us cross-train our employees to allow us to offset costs.”
Not only did the training help employees become more productive, it strengthened the company and bolstered the local economy. “When a company closes, it’s not just their employees who are affected, but the entire region,” Ellis says. “When we thrive, the region thrives.”