SCA Tissue officials say they're spending a lot of time these days answering rumors about layoffs at its plant in Barton.
The rumors began circulating a couple of weeks ago when the company announced a "cost and productivity" program at its operations worldwide. That is a common term used these days by companies in search of finding the best and least expensive ways to deliver their products in a competitive environment. The strategy generally involves a reduction of workers.
The announcement led to rumors that 30, 40 or even 50 people had been laid off at SCA's Colbert County plant. That's not true, according to Amy Bellcourt, SCA vice president of communications.
That doesn't mean some jobs won't be lost as the company rolls out the program between now and the end of 2014. Chances are it will happen here at some point, but no one knows how many.
"We're always adjusting staffing to meet production demands," Bellcourt said. "No decisions have been made on how Barton might be affected."
One thing appears certain: It's unlikely SCA's Barton plant will take a big hit. The Swedish company has invested a half-billion dollars in the local operation, including bringing in three new manufacturing machines this year. About 500 people work there now. Bellcourt said any employee reduction would likely involve retirements and attrition.
On other fronts ...
The old Demo's Restaurant building off Cox Creek Parkway in Florence has been purchased. The new owner reportedly has plans to open a sports bar there.
Work is under way at the new Grogan Jewelers store on Cox Creek Parkway, next to Regency Square Mall. Across the street, Publix is still expected to open by mid-December.
Dale's Restaurant, a longtime dining tradition in the Shoals, is under new management. Expect to learn soon about new plans.
The Wal-Mart Marketplace operation next to Lauderdale Lanes on Florence Boulevard is slowly progressing. Owners of the old Kmart building next door are hopeful Wal-Mart Marketplace will create enough traffic to spark other retail development at the site. Another of the company's marketplace facilities could be coming to Wilson Dam Road in Muscle Shoals.
By the way, Wal-Mart officials say they expect to break ground in early 2013 on the new supercenter on Cloverdale Road.
There are rumors floating about that Longhorn Steakhouse is looking seriously at opening in Florence. Also, plans are progressing for a Logan's Steakhouse being built on the Southgate Mall property in Muscle Shoals.
Details remain sketchy, but it appears a major retailer has interest in Muscle Shoals.
Mike Goens is managing editor of the TimesDaily. He can be reached at 740-5740 or mike.goens@TimesDaily.com.