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After 112 years Cone Mill Denim Closing Greensboro plant

The plant that put the jeans in Jeansboro will end its run on December 31st. The announcement came Wednesday and means pink slips for about 200 people and a void in the city's manufacturing tradition.

GREENSBORO — Another pillar fell Wednesday. 

Another piece of the city's business identity is history. Just like Lorillard tobacco, which was broken up and sold. Just like Dillard Paper, gone. Jefferson-Pilot, acquired. Guilford Mills, gone. And Cone Denim will soon close its last Greensboro plant. The plant that put the jeans in "Jeansboro" will end its run on Dec. 31.

After 112 years of operation, International Textile Group announced Wednesday that its Cone Denim White Oak Plant will close, bringing pink slips for about 200 people and a void in the city's manufacturing tradition.

As millions of consumers wore jeans made at the plant, thousands of Greensboro workers raised families for more than a century on wages they earned at White Oak, building a culture and a corporate legacy that now survives only as a brand name in the city of its origin.

For the first time since the late 1800s, Greensboro workers will no longer make a product under the name Cone, one of the city's indelible founding families. 

White Oak, once the world's largest denim plant at 1.6 million square feet with 2,500 workers at its peak, has been hailed in recent years as an innovative survivor in an economy that has been brutal for the textile industry, using its vintage looms to make denim in small batches for high-fashion jeans. 

But the company said in a news release that "changes in market demand in recent years have significantly reduced order volume at the facility." The cost of operating a cavernous plant with a fraction of its peak production levels was too high, the company said.

“It’s a gut punch, but not unexpected," Mayor Nancy Vaughan said.

Coincidentally, Vaughan was at an event Wednesday celebrating the revitalization of Revolution Mill, another Cone plant that closed in the 1980s and sat vacant for years.

That doesn’t have to be the fate of White Oak.

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Tags:   US Manufacturing News    Cone Denim Mills    Closing    Plant    Jeans    Greensboro    NC
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