LITTLE ROCK — Georgia-Pacific announced Tuesday it's laying off more than 650 workers in Arkansas as it shuts down part of a mill in Crossett and another facility in Hope.
The Atlanta-based company said it's shutting down the bleached board operations at its facility in Crossett, 104 miles south of Little Rock, as of October. Approximately 530 jobs will be affected by the closure and another 25 business and sales jobs will be affected by the decision.
"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," Monty Brown, senior vice president for consumer products group operations, said in a news release.
The company said it will continue to operate the Crossett mill to support its consumer tissue and towel business, and will retain approximately 500 employees to manage those operations.
Georgia-Pacific said it will continue operating the mill in its current form until the shutdown in October. During the next month, it will begin discussing with union leadership and workers the potential to transfer to other Georgia-Pacific locations.
Georgia-Pacific also said it would close particleboard facilities in Hope, located 105 miles southwest of Little Rock, and in Monroeville, Alabama over the next couple months. The company said it also wouldn't rebuild a Thomson, Georgia facility that experienced a catastrophic fire last week. Approximately 100 employees at each facility would be affected by the closures.
Crossett Mayor Scott McCormick called the closure "devastating" for the city of about 5,000 and would impact other businesses in town.
"Just about everything in town is going to be affected by this," he said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he planned to talk with Georgia-Pacific's president to understand the reasons behind the closures, and said the state was focused on providing resources and training necessary to those losing their jobs.
"Georgia Pacific has been a good partner with the state of Arkansas for a number of years, and I expect they will continue to be in the future. Nevertheless, today's announcement is disappointing," Hutchinson said in a statement. "This is a tough hit to South Arkansas and all the families impacted."