City celebrates as employees acquire factory

The city coffers are drained. The town's biggest employer, in a county with one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, has closed its factory doors. The state auditor somewhat understatedly confirms that ''a fiscal-emergency condition exists.''

So what are the residents of Manchester, Ohio, celebrating this weekend? Self-determination.

Some of them now own what was once a Hercules Trouser Company factory, which will reopen under the proud banner of Manchester Manufacturers Inc. It is said to be the first employee-owned garment factory in the United States. Plant financing comes from an array of federal and state loans, as well as an employee stock offering.

And this weekend residents will be celebrating self-determination and plans for the future with a Hope Festival that will feature an old-fashioned town meeting.

By January, the company expects to have some 125 of the original 300 workers back on the job.

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