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.

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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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