(Adam Vogler) [Order this photo]
Plant managers were informed early Tuesday morning of the closure and held a meeting to inform the rest of the employees, according to one employee who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
According to a news release distributed by PolyOne on Tuesday, five other manufacturing plants are scheduled to close by the end of 2014. This action is part of the company's efforts to "realign its North American manufacturing assets to better serve customers [and] improve efficiency," according to the news release. The move will eliminate redundancy, the release said.
Spokesman Kyle Rose said after PolyOne acquired Spartech, which makes plastics and resin, in March, the company began to evaluate its facilities.
"We looked at our total manufacturing footprint for any redundancies in capacity," he said. "To be more efficient, we're reducing our number of facilities."
Before it was Spartech, the company was known as Atlas Plastics, founded in 1960. The company and its local subsidiary Resin Exchange were acquired by Spartech in 1986, and production was moved to the Nash Road facility in 1987. A second facility opened on Spartech Drive near Arena Park that manufactures plastic sheets; it was not included in the list of closing facilities.
The anonymous employee said many people have worked at the Nash Road facility since the 1970s and '80s; now they have only one year left.
"They said it would be July of next year before it closes," he said. "But I expect about 30 percent of the people will quit before then, which would speed up that time."
Rose said PolyOne would offer benefits and severance packages to employees affected by the closings. When asked about specific benefits, he said that was "a conversation we're having now with our employees."
The anonymous employee said he was told in the Tuesday morning meeting that severance pay would be provided and employees were welcome to apply for openings at other facilities, but no relocation assistance would be provided. He also said employees would be losing good benefits.
"I worked at another company before coming to [PolyOne], and when I left that company they said that the health insurance I received through them would continue for nine months," he said. "We have really good health insurance, and it doesn't cost us a lot, but they told us today that once we leave the company, our health insurance stops the day we leave."
John Mehner, president of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, said he was surprised to hear about the facility's closing.
"They just expanded recently. Everything seemed to be going well," he said.
Mehner said the chamber had worked closely with PolyOne and will continue to do so as long as the facility remains open.
"We will continue to work with them in the upcoming year to see if anything can be changed or modified," he said. "We'll work with them on the situation the entire time they are there."
If the facility does close, Mehner said the city will have a "marketable building and a marketable work force" to entice a new business to Cape Girardeau.
The announcement of the PolyOne facility's closing came less than a week after an announcement that Integrity Solution Services, a Cape Girardeau call center once known as National Asset Recovery Services, likely will close later this year, with 400 jobs lost. Local economist Bruce Domazlicky said the possible loss of 500 jobs may sound like an overwhelming number, but the impact "won't drag the whole economy down."
"There are about 55,000 jobs in Cape Girardeau County, so the loss of about 500 jobs would only be around 1 percent," he said. "Obviously, the loss of jobs is a very serious matter to those involved and there will be some loss of income, but the area is large enough to absorb that sort of a hit."
Cape Girardeau County's unemployment rate has fluctuated from a high of 6.2 percent in January to 5.5 percent in April, according Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations statistics.
The most recent data available, in May, saw a 6.1 percent rate. State unemployment rose one-tenth of a percentage point, to 6.9 percent, in June.
The anonymous employee said many people at the facility were angry to hear about the closing.
"You know, most companies want to create jobs, but they're just taking them away," he said.
The PolyOne news release said a total of 250 jobs would be lost as the result of closing six facilities, and the company expects to spend about $45 million over the next 12 to 18 months on severance pay and other benefits.
The news release also said the company expects a pretax savings of about $25 million in 2015 after the closings are complete.
4753 Nash Road, Cape Girardeau, MO
2500 Spartech Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO