Allison's efforts funnel laid-off workers directly into retraining and counseling, and are designed to prepare them for careers at the growing industries. Textiles offered nearly three times as many jobs, but the new work can pay twice as well.

David Carter, assistant pastor of the Baptist Temple of Alamance County, counsels people transitioning from blue-collar work to a diversified economy. His father founded the church in the recession year of 1975, when Burlington saw unemployment nearing 20 percent.

Carter counsels parishioners who may not be completely out of a job, he said, but take two or three to pay their bills. Family time is sacrificed.

"The old mill houses here, they were all built with a front porch. You saw your mom greet your dad home from work on that porch. You learned on that porch," Carter said. "You don't see a lot of porches like that anymore."

As he nears the end of his job training, Holt is concerned that he will have to swallow some pride. A friend who graduated from the same course in programmable electronic controllers ¿ the mechanical brains of everything from factory machinery to traffic lights ¿ became a janitor at an interstate truck stop. It was all the Triangle had for a former mill worker in his 50s.

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