LI dancewear maker moving 36 jobs south

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A Smithtown-based dance-costume maker plans to shift 36 manufacturing jobs, or about a third of its Long Island employment, to its Georgia plant this summer, the company said Wednesday.

But Art Stone Inc./The Competitor will continue to operate on Long Island with 65 remaining employees.

"Consolidating our production arm will allow our company to continue to manufacture costumes in the U.S. and continue to grow the Art Stone/The Competitor brand," Ashley Stone, vice president of operations, said in a statement.

Ira Plutner, chief financial officer, said in an interview the company has about 100 employees at its Jesup, Ga., plant. The company plans to move the LI jobs by July 1. "Labor costs are cheaper down there," he said.

The Smithtown location will retain some specialized manufacturing jobs as well as a design department, accounting and data-processing operations, customer service and a retail store, he said.

"Down the road, if things go the way as planned, we are going to be hiring more people on Long Island; it's just not in the manufacturing part," he said.

The company, on Long Island since the 1970s, sells to dance studios and school districts, he said. Employees were told on Monday, Plutner said. It isn't known how many will accept jobs in Georgia.

The company disclosed its plans in a filing required by the state Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The act requires employers with at least 50 full-time employees to give them a 90-day notice before a major layoff or closing.

The news is another blow to Long Island's manufacturing sector, which is one of its weakest. It has 72,400 jobs, about half the number it had in 1990, according to the state Labor Department.

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