Steam rises above the SCA Tissue plant on East Butler Avenue in Flagstaff in this file photo. The company announced the plant will close in June 2017.
The Flagstaff SCA tissue production plant will halt operations Thursday and close later this month, company officials announced Wednesday. The Bellemont plant will remain open.
Amy Bellcourt, the vice president of communications for SCA, said the plant employs 78 people who were notified Wednesday that they will no longer have jobs.
“Their positions will end,” Bellcourt said.
Bellcourt said the Flagstaff plant and the Bellemont plant serve two different purposes — the paper is actually made at the Flagstaff plant and the finished products are created at the Bellemont plant.
Due to a recent purchase of Wausau Paper by the Sweden-based SCA, the company obtained additional production capacity, which partially eliminated the need for the Flagstaff plant, Bellcourt said. The company has also increased production efficiency, which contributed to the decision to close the plant.
“This is not a reflection of the skill and hard work of the employees in Flagstaff,” Bellcourt said.
Operations at the plant will halt Thursday and the plant will be shut down in the following weeks, Bellcourt said. Employees will be paid for 60 days following the production halt Thursday, she said.
SCA does not plan to sell the mill or to dismantle the equipment, she said.
Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Julie Pastrick said the chamber is working with other stakeholders to help the employees from the closed plant find new jobs.
“78 families affected by the Flagstaff SCA plant closure is a big loss in a small community like ours,” Pastrick said in an email. “We want to be certain we connect them to other manufacturers who may be able to hire the same position, to other Chamber member businesses who offer assistance to distressed workers in situations like this, and to businesses who have employment opportunities. It’s our top priority.”
Pastrick said the chamber hosts the Northern Arizona Manufacturing Partnership, and members will be notified of the job descriptions and skill sets of those being laid off to help match employees with existing job vacancies in the field.
“Severance pay will be helpful but the long-term effects of sudden job loss can be devastating,” Pastrick said in an email. “Fortunately, our community responds quickly with compassion, dignity and respect for those who lost their jobs.”
The reporter can be reached at [email protected] or 556-2249.