Next year marks 60 years that a Kimberly-Clark plant has called the industrial park in Conway home. But, as of Thursday afternoon, they won’t be calling it home for too much longer.
The weather matches the mood after Kimberly-Clark confirms plans to shut down its Conway paper mill, which employs about 350 people.
“It impacts those families and makes a big difference there,” Mark Preston says.
Preston is the Executive Director of the Arkansas Development Economic Commission. He says Thursday’s news comes after Wisconsin essentially outbid Arkansas to retain a larger Kimberly-Clark presence through nearly $25 million dollars in tax incentives.
“What it came down to they were able to renegotiate a contract with a union there in Wisconsin,” Preston says.
“They agreed to some lower wages; couple that with the incentives the state of Wisconsin was able to put at it. it was just beyond anything we were able to do.”
The Conway plant parking lot remained empty much of the day Thursday.
The layoffs there will happen over a two-year period.
Those layoffs hit close to home for many including the Conway mayor.
Bart Castleberry released a statement saying he has a high school friend who works with him at city hall and that friend’s spouse lost their job Thursday.
Kimberly-Clark also has a manufacturing plant in Maumelle.
Officials say that plant will not be affected and in fact it may grow.
— ORIGINAL STORY —
NEENAH, Wisc. – The Kimberly-Clark Corporation has announced it will be closing its paper plant in Conway.
That’s according to a major company announcement made on Thursday.
The Conway plant employs about 350 workers.
We’re told the plant will close over a two-year period.
Kimberly-Clark also has a Maumelle manufacturing location. Jobs there will not be affected, according to the Arkansas Development Economic Commission.
According to our sister station WFRV in Green Bay, Wisconsin:
In a phone call with Local 5, State Senator Dave Hansen’s office (D-Green Bay) confirmed approximately $25 Million in state money will be used to keep the Kimberly-Clark Cold Spring plant open.
The state aid money will distributed over five years.
The agreement avoids the need to pass a bill through state legislation as funding will come from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).
Senator Hansen is in support of this decision because it avoids setting a precedent, saves jobs, and protects tax payers.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson released this statement on the plant closing:
“We have all worked very aggressively to retain the Kimberly Clark Conway facility jobs. I am disappointed for the Conway workers and families that the company made the decision to close the Conway facility. It appears the historic ties of the company with Wisconsin along with Union wage cuts and cash incentives from the state tilted the balance in favor of Wisconsin.
“The central Arkansas labor market has thousands of job openings and I am directing my Department of Workforce Services to provide maximum assistance to Kimberly Clark employees in any needed training or job location assistance.”
More details to come.