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Georgia Pacific plant in Parchment announces closing

PARCHMENT, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It's the end of an era in Parchment, also known as "Paper City."

Friday, employees at Georgia-Pacific's Dixie plant learned the facility will permanently close by the end of 2015.

The announcement that the plant is closing, eliminating 57 full-time positions, has yet to sink in as the employees were given the day off.

This afternoon we spoke with Parchment Mayor Rob Heasley, who says Friday's announcement came as a total surprise.

The loading docks at the Georgia Pacific Dixie plant on Island Avenue are eerily silent, and the employee parking lot sits empty.

Everyone was given the day off following a 7:15 a.m. meeting in the cafeteria.

"We announced today that we're closing our Parchment facility at the end of the year, which will ultimately impact all of the employees here," explained Georgia-Pacific Dixie spokesperson Julie VanDeWater.

The closing of the Parchment plant means the elimination of 57 full-time jobs, with the work being transitioned to facilities in Wisconsin and Mississippi.

VanDeWater says the move to close the Parchment plant--which converts bulk paper into paper products for the food industry--was simply a business decision.

"Our business needs to remain competitive long term, just called for the eventual closing of this facility," she said.

The news isn't sitting well with Parchment Mayor Rob Heasley, who says he didn't see this coming.

"I didn't see this coming at all. We've been assured repeatedly by the plant staff that everything was really good and the place was very profitable," he said.

News of the plant closure has yet to hit this tight knit community, where Scooter D's diner owner Dave Fooy knows most of his customers personally. He says this is yet another blow to Parchment, known as paper city, following the paper mill's closing back in 2000.

The mill was owned by Crown Vantage Paper Company.

"The people who are losing jobs are regular customers or have been in the past definitely hurt the community," said Fooy.

Employees will return to work on Monday, but operations in Parchment are expected to cease by the end of the year.

Now, officials with Georgia Pacific Dixie tell us they are working one-on-one with employees through the end of December to try and provide them with access to job placement resources.

There is also the possibility that some of the employees here may be able to apply for positions at the other locations, but there are no guarantees.

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