Fire That Closed Kentucky Electronics Factory Also Hurting Other Businesses

ANNVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- The fire that shut down Mid-South Electronics and left hundreds without work is stifling other businesses in this Jackson County community.

From restaurants to car dealerships, local business owners say the impact on the local economy will be severe.

Mid-South, with 700 employees, was one of the area's largest employers before it caught fire and burned over the weekend. The plant assembled circuit boards and did plastic injection molding used in ice and water dispensers for Frigidaire refrigerators.

Kayla's Cafe and More is cutting back on orders for food, because the restaurant can no longer count on the lunch business from Mid-South.

Harold Moore said he expects the fire to hurt sales at his business, Annville Auto Mart Inc., which is across the road from Mid-South.

``Definitely it's going to hurt sales because when people don't have jobs, they can't buy cars,'' Moore said. ``It's going to have a ripple effect all around.''

The financial impact of the fire started spreading as it still burned. On Sunday, Phillips Diversified Manufacturing Inc., a supplier for Mid-South, laid off 80 of the 130 employees at its plant on the hill behind the Mid-South plant, said Donna McQueen, human resources director.

And Harold Weaver, chairman and chief executive officer of Mid-South, said the fire will affect other businesses that supplied his company with everything from janitorial supplies to trucking services, as well as the companies that Mid-South served.

``It's like a domino,'' he said.

Several families lost two paychecks because husband and wife both worked at Mid-South. In Hilah Ervin's family, Mid-South supplied six people with jobs: her, her two sons and two daughters-in-law, and her sister.

Her husband has a job, so they won't be without an income, Ervin said. But the shutdown will mean changes.

``It may get rough for a little while, but I'd say we'll pull through,'' she said. ``There's 'Now Hiring' signs at McDonald's everywhere. We'll figure something out.''

The fire started just after 11 p.m. EST Saturday. Firefighters from more than half a dozen departments battled the blaze in frigid conditions, evacuating residents in a one-mile radius for a time because of concerns about possible chemical releases from the plant.

The building was a total loss, though employees saved the plant's mainframe computer and payroll records. Authorities haven't yet determined the cause of the fire.

Mid-South was one of the largest employers in the region, drawing workers from Jackson and surrounding counties.

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