Georgia Pacific is closing its cardboard box-making plant in Chattanooga, idling 60 employees within the next two months.
Production at the Millennium Packaging Solutions plant at East 14th Street and Holtzclaw began to wind down Monday after company officials met individually with workers on Friday to explain the shut down.
"The facility just doesn't lend itself to make the improvements we need to be competitive today," said Julie Davis, communications director for Georgia Pacific's container division, which operates 40 plants across the country. "This has nothing to do with the employees or the good work that they have done. But over the past 18 months, we have been making a lot of upgrades to our facilities across our footprint and we are just not able to do that at the facility."
Georgia Pacific provided workers the required 60-day notice of the plant closing last Thursday and will continue to pay employees with wages and benefits through the end January, Davis said. But production is already being scaled back as Georgia Pacific moves to shift production and business to other facilities, including its plant in Cleveland which employs more than 100 workers.
The local plant, which Georgia Pacific bought for $2.8 million in 2004, makes corrugated cardboard boxes primarily for food and industrial customers. The East Chattanooga plant includes more than 160,000 square feet of warehouse, manufacturing space and loading docks and is appraised by the Hamilton County Assessor's Office to be worth more than $3.3 million.
"Unfortunately, the economy is the way it is and companies have to do what they have to do," Norris Watkins, one of those being laid off, told WRCB-TV. "Regardless of where it is, they're going to help me get back to work and that's all that really matters."
Contact Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 757-6340.