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ETON, Ga. -- Local leaders received news Wednesday that Murray County will lose about 190 jobs.

Mohawk Industries said the company will "permanently cease its tufting operations" at its plant on U.S. Highway 411 in Eton. The shutdown began Wednesday.

The company's extrusion operations in Eton were not affected, according to a Mohawk news release.

David Ridley, Murray County's sole commissioner, said he received a letter about the closure Wednesday afternoon.

"This is just a very sad day for Murray County and for those employees," he said.

Mohawk Industries officials did not return calls Wednesday.

The news release said workers were told Wednesday that the closure is "part of a consolidation strategy" and many positions will "be reassigned over the next 90 days."

Tufting equipment from Eton will be moved to a factory on Antioch Road in Dalton, the release stated, and "as many Eton tufting employees as possible" will be offered jobs there.

Dinah Rowe, president of the Chatsworth-Murray County Chamber of Commerce, said it's the largest single layoff since the recession began.

"Mohawk is our largest employer in Murray County," she said, and the company has other facilities operating in the county.

She lamented the fact that Murray County and Eton have not yet passed a freeport exemption, which frees manufacturers from taxes on certain inventories.

"I don't know if it had anything to do with this particular case, but I know (having the exemption) has to make a location a lot more attractive to business," said Ms. Rowe.

Murray County is included in Dalton's unemployment rate. The Georgia Department of Labor reported in November that the area's unemployment is at 12.7 percent.

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