PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The mill that provided high-paying jobs to generations of workers in Panama City will permanently close on June 6.
About 450 people will lose their jobs, Westrock, the owner of the mill, said in a news release.
The mill produces containerboard, primarily heavyweight kraft, and fluff pulp, with a combined annual capacity of 645,000 tons, Westrock officials wrote in a news release. They added that select grades of containerboard currently produced at the mill will be manufactured at other WestRock facilities.
“A decision to close a facility and impact the lives of our employees is never easy to make,” said David B. Sewell, chief executive officer at WestRock. “As we implement our plans to close the Panama City mill, we do so with great appreciation for the many contributions of the team there. We are committed to assisting our Panama City team with exploring roles at other WestRock locations and outplacement assistance.”
They added that “WestRock is committed to improving its return on invested capital as well as maximizing the performance of its assets, and the Panama City mill would require significant capital investment to maintain and improve going forward.”
The company added that production of fluff pulp is not a priority in their strategy to focus on higher-value markets.
“By closing this mill, significant capital that would be required to keep the mill competitive in the future will be deployed to improve other key assets,” the news release states. “Employees of the Panama City mill will receive severance and outplacement assistance in accordance with Company policy and labor union agreements.”