Smurfit-Stone closing 2 Virginia plants

By McClatchy Tribune Newspapers
Posted Sep. 15, 2010 at 7:34 a.m.

Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. is planning to close and consolidate several eastern Henrico County, Va. plants within two months. The Chicago-based paper products company will close two Virginia container plants it owns. According to a notice the company filed with state officials, the closures would result in 229 job cuts by Oct. 31.

However, a spokeswoman for Smurfit-Stone said yesterday that her information indicated the closures would affect about 184 employees and that one of the plants will not close until late November.

In March, when the company first announced the closures, a spokesman said about 300 people worked at the plants and that 150 jobs would be eliminated, while 150 other jobs would be saved by consolidating the operations to another local plant.

The company also plans to move out of another building that it leases on Lewis Road, said Leonard Cake, administrative director for the Henrico County Economic Development Authority.

Smurfit-Stone is moving the manufacturing operations into a 316,000-square-foot building near Laburnum Avenue and Charles City Road that formerly was a Stanley Hardware manufacturing plant, Cake said.

Local officials believe the consolidation ultimately will save about 150 jobs, he said. “As things progress, [ the company is ] talking about rehiring some people once they get the new system set up and all the machinery in place.”

Smurfit-Stone, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July, had considered moving the Henrico operations out of Virginia, but state officials offered a $300,000 grant, paid out over five years, if the company meets a $32 million investment target.

The company also owns a containerboard mill in West Point that employs about 490 people, a mill in Hopewell that employs about 290, and a box plant in Martinsville with about 95 employees.

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