Upson County Facility Closing Doors Permanently
An Upson County facility will be shutting its doors by 2014 and leaving 150 workers without a job.
Washington State based company, Clearwater Paper Corporation, broke the news on Tuesday that their Thomaston facility will shut its doors by the first quarter of next year.
In a release, president of Clearwater Paper’s consumer products division, Tom Colgrove, said “We have concluded that consolidating regional converting and permanently closing Thomaston was the solution to best serve the needs of our southeastern customers and improve the overall logistics of our national manufacturing network.”
The site may be closing, but that doesn't necessarily mean employees there are out of a job. A company spokesperson said workers will have the chance to apply for open positions at other Clearwater Paper facilities. In addition, the company is offering separation and incentive pay for employees who remain at Thomaston until their established final day of work. However, the news is still shocking for those impacted.
"Well, I mean it stinks but they gave us opportunities to go to other places,” employee Steve Walden said,
Walden has been working at the facility for more than a year. He and his co-workers received the news Tuesday night that the tissue converting and distribution facility will be shutting its doors permanently by next year.
"They kept bringing in new equipment so I didn't really think anything about it,” Walden said. “I didn't think it would be going anywhere, but obviously it is."
The corporation set up shop in Thomaston in 2010. However, with it now leaving Upson County administrators are finding the news unsettling.
"It's bothering to the community, we're losing jobs," Upson County Manager, Jim Wheeless said.
It’s not only jobs, but tax revenue. The county operates on a $13 million budget. While the facility isn't the largest employer, Wheeless said the county will be down financially.
"It's a tax loss, revenue loss and as any community we don't want to lose tax revenue in these economic times."
County administrators said the news is devastating, but Southern Crescent Technical College in Thomaston is stepping in to re-train employees so they'll hopefully apply to other jobs in the county.
"I talked with someone this morning from Southern Crescent, they were at the plant location working with the staff there to start that process," Wheeless said.
While the county tries to keep people in Upson,
"We're going to have to roll up our sleeves and keep working," Wheeless said.
Some employees like Walden are looking to stay with the corporation
"Hopefully be able to get another job at another site," Walden said.
The corporation said it will integrate most of the equipment from Thomaston to its facilities in Oklahoma City and Shelby, N.C. Wheeless said he's unaware of any new industries coming to the county, but said they’re always looking for new business and importantly, more local jobs.