FOX16.com

Looming Budget Cuts Threaten Jefferson County Businesses

Business owners worry potential furloughs for Pine Bluff Arsenal employees could hurt the local economy.
PINE BLUFF, AR - Hundreds of employees at the Pine Bluff Arsenal are preparing to face furloughs thanks to the sequester. Many in Jefferson County have been through closings and layoffs before and say they know exactly what to expect as the furloughs kick in--more economic decline.

In typical Friday fashion Gary Raney's regulars are hitting the door of his liquor store after work, grabbing a couple of beers to unwind and sharing what's on their minds.

"Most of the people are just angry, they've been told they will lose one day a week from work and they're struggling as it is cause of gas prices," says Raney.

Raney opened his liquor store close to the Pine Bluff Arsenal. There, employees just received notice they'll be furloughed to making up for budget cuts in Washington. It's the latest in a string of setbacks in an area plagued with job and population loss for decades.

"I see a lot of people lose their jobs, it's tough," customer Daniel Connor says.

Connor has lived here for nearly 40 years.

"I got laid off a week before Christmas and I was wondering what I was going to do," he says, explaining his own bout with job loss a few years back.

Connor found work in Little Rock but still spends part of his paycheck near home, a much needed boost for Raney. He knows when his customers start suffering, he's not far behind.

"They will cut wine. If they're a whiskey drinker they may buy a smaller bottle," Raney says.

For now, he's preparing for the worst.

"It's a struggle to stay in business," says Raney.

And like many is this community he says he and Connor are still hoping for the best.

"I would like to see more jobs and more money," says Connor.

The store owner there says he expects some growth in the area near the Arsenal. He's been told a new Dollar General is on the way.
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