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      Heinz delays hiring at Florence plant

      NewsChannel 15 has learned the Heinz Corporation is holding off on hiring 350 people for its Florence County plant because of the economy.

      Officials tell NewsChannel 15 right now is just not a good time to bring on the workers, but Heinz officials say they're still committed to Florence County.

      The company continues to finish building its 225,000 square foot facility at the Pee Dee Touchstone Energy Commerce City off of Highway 327. This is part of the company's expansion of their frozen meals division.

      Last September, Heinz held its groundbreaking and said then the plant would be up and running by this summer.

      However, due to the depressed state of our nation's economy, the company is unable to hire its 350 production workers.

      Florence County economic development officials say this is only a delay.

      "Heinz has reaffirmed their commitment to this community to us repeatedly. I think it's evident by coming out to the site seeing them complete construction on the building. They're putting in all the machinery, equipment which is a $105 million investment," Kyle Edney, Florence County Economic Development, said

      Officials tell us Heinz has already brought in their management team, and they are working out of the new facility.

      Edney says they plan to hire workers as soon as the economy rebounds.

      Florence County officials say they're in constant contact with Heinz and will alert employment officials when hiring resumes.