Though it’s been in business since 2001, a paper products plant in Bellemont has announced its plans to shut its doors and cease operations by winter of 2019, according to the Arizona Daily Sun.
While this closure could lead to the loss of approximately 116 jobs, officials insist it was purely a financial decision that was made to “further improve efficiency and strengthen the competitiveness for the professional hygiene business in North America.”
The plant’s parent company, Essity, also shut down a similar plant in Flagstaff last year. These plants produce a raw paper material that’s eventually manufactured into products like paper towel, tissues, and toilet paper.
The U.S. paper recovery rate reached an all-time high of 67.2% in 2016, the third consecutive annual increase, but Amy Bellcourt, Essity’s vice president of communications, says the conversion plant in Flagstaff was shut down for similar reasons, and that the products sold were not the type to be purchased by the average consumer, but rather, in bulk to other businesses.
According to a Bankrate study, 32% of Americans between the ages of 53 and 62 reported they had zero dollars saved, more than any other age group. Fortunately, those who lose jobs as a result of the shutdown will have opportunities to apply to other Essity facilities in the United States. However, officials expect layoffs to start in less than two months and continue until the final shutdown.
Of course, depending on their skills, some former employees may be open to other job opportunities, and Director of the Coconino County Career Center Carol Curtis said that there will likely be a job fair for those looking for assistance regarding future employment. But considering that 38% of hiring managers predict that their employees will work predominantly remotely in the next 10 years, according to Upwork’s 2018 Future Workforce Report, employees may have more opportunities than previously thought.
Curtis did say that in her experience, these types of workers are ‘highly sought after,’ and that while paper manufacturers will send representatives from as far away as Georgia to the job fair, the county typically likes to keep people localized.
The paper plant in Bellemont served as one of the last manufacturers of paper products in the area of Flagstaff, which at one point had a total of five plants related to paper manufacturing. And this can’t be blamed on the transition to an increasingly digital and paperless world, either — one in every five corporate employees uses an Office 365 cloud service, and while people are shifting their ways to incorporate digital media, this decision seems to follow the trend of other Flagstaff manufacturers closing their doors.
For example, the Flagstaff Sears location was shut down in August, and the Sears Auto Center was recently closed as well, although the store plans to stay open until December.
According to Curtis, however, county officials will help workers of the employers: they plan to set up in the break room and help workers update their resumes and plan out their futures.
While Essity will still own the Flagstaff plant as well as the Bellemont factory, they have yet to determine what will become of the factory or the space around it.
Overall, the closure is projected to save Essity approximately $17,046,900.