Georgia-Pacific announced Tuesday (June 4) it is permanently shutting down the equipment and processes supporting the bleached board operations at its Crossett facility in south Arkansas as of October 2019. About 555 jobs will be impacted by the closure. Also, the timber and paper giant will close a particleboard facility in Hope, laying off 100 workers.
The Crossett decision was based on an assessment of the mill’s ability to compete effectively in the bleached board market, the company said.
Machines, an extrusion plant, woodyard, pulp mill and a significant portion of an energy complex at the mill will be closed.
In July, the company will also shut down one of the mill’s older tissue machines that doesn’t support the long-term competitiveness of the tissue business.
Georgia-Pacific officials said that 530 jobs in Crossest will ultimately be affected and 25 related business and sales jobs will also be impacted.
The company said it will continue to operate and invest in the Crossett mill to support its consumer tissue and towel business. About 500 current employees will be retained to manage these operations.
During the next month, Georgia-Pacific will begin discussions with union leadership and the hourly and salaried workforce on how the process will work for employees affected by the job reductions, including the potential to transfer to other Georgia-Pacific locations. The company will also begin working with its customers on transitioning their bleached board product supply, G-P officials said.
“Our Crossett employees have worked hard to safely and productively manage our operations there, and in recent years we have invested significantly in our operations. However, we have decided that the required investments needed for the bleached board machines, pulp mill and woodyard to sustain the operation long-term are not economically viable,” said Monty Brown, senior vice president – Consumer Products Group Operations. “We understand the impact this decision has on our employees, families and the community, and we will work cooperatively with the state and the community to minimize that impact.”
In addition, the company announced today that it will close two particleboard facilities in Hope, Arkansas, and Monroeville, Alabama, over the next couple months and will not rebuild its Thomson, Georgia, facility, which experienced a catastrophic fire last week.
Approximately 100 employees at each facility will be impacted. Georgia-Pacific’s particleboard production in Diboll, Texas, will remain in operation.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the plant closures were a reminder that the state must budget responsibly to prepare for rougher economic conditions.
“Today’s announcement of future layoffs by Georgia Pacific is a reminder that we need to continue building our reserve accounts to weather any future slow-down of the economy,” he said.
Talk Business & Politics will update this story later today.