Fruit of Loom building donated to Vidalia

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, June 7, 2016

VIDALIA — With its impending closure, the Vidalia Fruit of the Loom distribution center plans to donate its 900,000-square foot facility to the City of Vidalia.

Concordia Parish Economic Development Director Heather Malone said work has already begun on marketing the property to potential developers.

“Fruit of the Loom has been very open to working with us to get the property back on the market and has agreed to let us … advertise it prior to their departure and show the property prior to their departure,” she said.

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Martin Mills Inc., a subsidiary of Union Underwear Company, announced last month it will permanently close Vidalia Apparel and terminate 167 jobs.

Union Underwear Company Vice President of Distribution Donald R. Watts has said the first jobs will be terminated no sooner than July 10.

Vidalia Apparel has been operating in Vidalia for more than 20 years on property owned by the City of Vidalia.

Malone said while the city agreed to let the company develop the property, no formal lease was ever executed.

“From what I understand … no contract had ever been signed,” she said. “I don’t know if it was ever anyone’s true intention (for a lease to be signed). Year after year, neither organization really pressed it. I never saw there being an issue during my visits with the company.”

Mayor Hyram Copeland could not be reached for comment, but said in a statement that city staff has met with Fruit of the Loom representatives to discuss a maintenance plan moving forward.

“Fruit of the Loom has been a loyal tenant at the industrial park for over 20 years,” Copeland said. “They have taken great care of the property, and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to attract additional industry to our town with the availability of this building.”

Malone said high goals have been set for the property, and having an available building with necessary infrastructure puts Vidalia in a better position for recruitment.

“Fruit of the Loom is leaving us with two major assets — a 900,000-square foot building that seems to be in great shape and a trained workforce that is willing and ready to go to work,” Malone said. “Once we package these assets with the existing assets of our community, we have quite the item to sell. I am ready to hit the road to promote this property as the best turn-key site in the state and in the Delta region.”