BATESVILLE, Ark. (AP/KTHV) - ConAgra Foods Inc. is laying off as many as 250 people at its Batesville frozen food plant.
Batesville announced new business making it's way to Independence County just weeks ago but today, news of more layoffs has citizens and local businesses worried about the future.
It is on Main Street in Batesville where you will find Scott Dickie's new business.
"Any little town has got to have a barber shop," says Dickie, owner of Main Street Barber Shop. "I've been a barber for 15 years. I had 2 shops in Oregon and we moved here. It's been slow going, you know, just trying to get noticed."
Down the street, Troy Conroy opened the Pickers Garage just last month, a pool and live music hall.
"I just heard a lot of people talking about they had nowhere to go in Batesville, nothing to do in Batesville so I decided that it would be something to do," says Conroy.
Friday brought bad news and concerns they both share.
"When people get laid off, it don't help me. It don't help any business on main street or in Batesville," says Conroy.
ConAgra, one of the largest employers in Batesville announced the layoffs of approximately 250 employees effective in July after moving the company's frozen dinner production to Marshall Missouri.
"I got a call about a week ago scheduling a conference call about ConAgra of course they gave very few details at that time," says Mayor Rick Elumbaugh.
Though Independence County offers a variety of industry, Mayor Elumbaugh says the layoffs come as surprise, posing new challenges for his city's economy.
"Everyone's concerned. Anytime you have a layoff of some of your workforce in the community, it is a concern," says Mayor Elumbaugh.
Concerns for new business owners like Dickey, who plans to offer free haircuts to those affected by the layoffs.
"They keep shutting down, it's not going to be a town. You're losing 200 jobs in a town that doesn't have a lot of jobs," says Dickie.
Conroy says with so many out of work, he hopes his pool hall isn't out of business.
"When there are layoffs, people can't be doing. They can't go out and have fun and shoot some pool and enjoy the extra stuff they use to do," says Conroy.
Employees without jobs leaving businesses without customers.
"There are a lot of good things happening but there is always one going out and another coming in," says Dickie.
Mayor Elumbaugh says the Governor's Dislocated Workers Task Force
will be coming to Batesville to assist those employees in finding new jobs or signing up for unemployment benefits if needed.
Bad Boy Mowers recently announced it's expansion in Batesville. The company is already hiring and will eventually bring a total of 150 more jobs. White River Medical Center is also expanding in Batesville and the mayor says that should add another 275 jobs over the next few years.
(Copyright 2012 AP and KTHV. All rights reserved.)