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Georgia-Pacific to close Monticello container board plant

Dave DeWitte – CR Gazette –

The ax fell Wednesday for about 45 employees at Monticello’s longtime Georgia-Pacific plant.

Georgia-Pacific notified employees Wednesday that it will wind down operations over the next several weeks and then close the Monticello facility. The plant, which opened in 1962, makes boxes from corrugated sheet.

“We just haven’t been able to get that plant to the place where it was profitable,” said Julie Davis, communications director for Georgia-Pacific’s packaging business.

Davis had only praise for the Monticello work force, but said market conditions had made it difficult to continue operating the plant.

Production was suspended Wednesday and Thursday to give employees time to meet individually with the company. Workers who will stay on to finish out orders will resume work on Friday.

Monticello Mayor Dena Himes, whose husband worked at the plant for 32 years, said Georgia-Pacific was one of the city’s largest industries. She said the closing will be devastating to employees, in part because they had not had to look for work in such a long time.

Himes said the city will seek assistance from Iowa economic development and workforce development agencies.

The work now performed at the plant will be consolidated into other Georgia Pacific plants in Oshkosh, Wis., and Dubuque, Davis said.

Monticello employees are eligible for severance and will be encouraged to apply for other available openings in the company, according to Davis.

Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific is a major producer of tissue, packaging, pulp, building products and related chemicals.

In addition to its plants in Dubuque and Monticello, Georgia-Pacific operates one other Iowa plant in Fort Dodge.

Monticello, located in Jones County, has a population of just over 3,600.

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