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Workers at former Americus factory planning reunion

AMERICUS -- For six decades, Manhattan Shirt Co. was a leading industry and a driver for the economy in Sumter County.

That ended when the plant closed in 1996, but several former employees of the company are trying to get people who worked at the plant back together for a reunion.

The reunion is planned March 9 at Reese Park Economic Development Center on Elm Avenue in Americus. Faye Knight, one of the organizers of the event, said anyone interested in attending should make a reservation by Friday.

The cost to attend will be $25 per person. To make reservations or get more information, call Louise Warren at (229) 924-5566, Bethen Othon Bendimire at (229) 924-2422 or Knight at (229) 924-3087.

Warren said Manhattan Shirt Co. located in Americus in 1936 on Dudley Street. Matthew Roughgarden was the first plant manager, she said.

The plant remained at its original location until 1951 before moving into a new building on Tripp Street, where it remained until closing in December 1996.

"During the 60 years it was here, thousands of people were employed from Sumter County and all of the surrounding counties," Warren said. "Being about the only place to work, especially for women, it was very much appreciated."

Warren said the plant was organized in 1941 by Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America local 226C.

"We had an active local and legislative committee as long as the plant was here," she said.