Alcan closing plastic packaging plant in Centralia |

Alcan closing plastic packaging plant in Centralia

CENTRALIA, Ill. – Aluminum producer Alcan Inc. said Wednesday it will close its plastic packaging plant here by March and lay off all 221 employees, the latest large exodus of jobs from this struggling southern Illinois community.The Canadian-headquartered company said production from Alcan Packaging Centralia, which produces packaging for the pharmaceutical and personal care markets, will be transferred to other company plants in North America.Alcan Packaging CEO Christel Bories said the move resulted from a review of each of its plants’ competitiveness and long-term viability.”This alignment of our plastics manufacturing network will consolidate our strengths towards the creation of centers of excellence within our other plants,” she said in the company’s announcement.Alcan said it has begun discussions with the unions and other employee representatives in Centralia and will develop a plan to assist employees through a variety of support programs.The company employs about 70,000 people worldwide and has 37 packaging plants in 12 countries.The announcement of the Centralia plant shutdown comes a day after Alcan said it will be closing an aluminum cast plate plant in Vernon, Calif. Earlier this month, the company proposed shutting some of its European tobacco, food and beauty packaging plants.The closure of the Illinois plant is another hit to this city of 14,000 about 70 miles east of St. Louis. Many of the oil wells and coal mines that once helped this town flourish have long since died out, some factories are shuttered relics, and the city’s downtown is a collection of vacant storefronts.Quebecor shuttered its large Marion County printing plant in 2001, vaporizing nearly 900 union jobs. Not long afterward, electronic components maker Littelfuse Inc. pulled out of here, taking its operations and several hundred jobs to Mexico and overseas.Alcan’s planned departure is “devastating news to Centralia,” said Danny Stover, a member of the City Council.”It’s not unlike the sheer hemorrhage of jobs out of southern Illinois in general, mostly attributable to global trade agreements,” said the 54-year-old Stover, who has spent most of his life here.He said the city, if given the chance, would “bend over backwards” to do what it can to keep Alcan in town.”This is just the continuation of a long string of bad news that in many ways is beyond one small community’s ability to turn around,” Stover said.Alcan shares fell 93 cents, or 2.4 percent, to close at $38.35 in trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.—On the Net:Alcan Inc., http://www.alcan.comCity of Centralia,, Colorado

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