Cone Denim White Oak plant in Greensboro to close; close to 200 jobs lost

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- For more than 60 years, Jimmy Hipp has lived on the corner of Gordon Street.

“It’s just part of the family,” Hipp said.

It’s across the street from Cone Denim White Oak Plant where his grandmother and father used to work.

“You got people working down there 30, 40, 50 years,” he said.

It’s a historic part of his community that will be shutting down in December.

“It’s just sad,” Hipp said. “It’s just a part of history that’s gone.”

International Textile Group which owns the plant says high manufacturing costs have forced it to close. Nearly 200 workers will be laid off.

“The history of denim runs deep in this area in Greensboro,” said Susan Webster, curator of costumes and textiles at the Greensboro History Museum.

The plant has been open since 1905.

Webster says in the 1930s, it was the largest denim producer in the world.

“At one point, it had 3,000 looms, 61,000 spindles running day and night,” she said.

The mill even provided housing nearby for its workers.

“They put turkey’s on at Thanksgiving, Christmas,” Hipp said.

It’s a community life-long residents like Hipp says he never plans to leave even with the biggest part of it closing down.

“I plan on living here until I die, however long that is,” he said.

The plant officially closes on Dec. 31.