International Paper’s Franklin plant to close

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International Paper announced Thursday it would close its paper mill in Franklin by spring of next year, putting 1,100 people out of work.

The Memphis, Tenn.-based company said the closure was necessary because the demand for uncoated free-sheet paper had declined during the global recession.

“We recognize these are very difficult decisions affecting our employees, their families and the communities surrounding these mills,” International Paper Chairman and CEO John Faraci said in a statement. “We have concluded that we have excess capacity in our North American paper and packaging businesses, and these decisions will better match our supply with our expected customer demand.”

The company also announced it would close its containerboard mills in Pineville, La., and Albany, Ore., cutting another 500 jobs. 

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said he has commissioned the Virginia Employment Commission to create an Economic Crisis Strike Force to help displaced workers at the plant.

“International Paper’s intended closing of its Franklin facility as part of planned actions nationwide is a deep blow to the community and the commonwealth,” Kaine said in a statement. “This plant has long served as an economic asset for the area and its phased closing is most distressing. My heart goes out to the affected workers and their families, as well as all others who will be affected by this closure.”

The company said salaried employees will be offered severance packages and outplacement assistance. It is working with union officials on severance benefits for hourly workers.

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