Panama City Paper Mill to close

Panama City Paper Mill
Panama City Paper Mill(WJHG)
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 4:44 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Panama City Paper Mill will soon close its doors for good.

WestRock made the announcement Thursday. The company says it will permanently cease operations by June 6th.

WestRock says the Panama City mill would “require significant capital investment” to maintain and improve. The press release on the WestRock website says, “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.”

“A decision to close a facility and impact the lives of our employees is never easy to make,” David B. Sewell, chief executive officer at WestRock, said. “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.”

The mill produces containerboard and fluff pulp. The company says select grades of containerboard being produced at the mill will be made at other WestRock facilities. They say the production of fluff pulp is not a priority in the company’s strategy to focus on higher value markets.

The company says it employs about 450 people. They say employees will receive severance and outplacement assistance in accordance with company policy and labor union agreements.

Springfield city officials say the effects will be felt all around Bay County.

“Not only the families, but the truck drivers, the logging people, I don’t know where another mill is at for them to go, Bay Line railroad, it brings all the materials in and takes them out, Katron uses part of the mill leftovers, truckers going there daily, the diesel and fuel. It’s going to be reaching out to thousands of people, not just the 400+ that work here,” City of Springfield Mayor Ralph Hammond said.

Springfield officials said they expect it to take four to six months to really feel the impacts of the closure. They add having Tyndall Air Force Base, the navy base, and tourism will help keep the economy going.

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