Chamber will work to help displaced employees find work elsewhere locally
[email protected]July 28, 2014 Updated 1 hour ago
Food manufacturer Kellogg said Monday it is closing its Columbus snack plant on Victory Drive by the end of next year as part of a massive corporate restructuring. It will eliminate 325 jobs.
"As with any project that impacts people, these are difficult decisions," Kellogg Co. spokesman Kris Charles said via an email statement. "We are very mindful of the impact these changes will have – particularly to our employees, and we will help those who are impacted through their transitions."
Charles said the company is "working toward closure" of the Columbus plant by the end of 2015. "We will meet all requirements as part of that process including obligations, if any, to negotiate with the union," he said.
The Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce received a phone call from the local plant Monday morning disclosing plans to shutter the facility that has been operating for decades, said Bill Murphy, the chamber's executive vice president of economic development.
"We’re going to be kind of regrouping and figuring out if there’s anything we can do locally to keep the operations. My gut tells me those decisions have already been made," said Murphy, pointing out the closure announcement came out of the blue, although the chamber had a hunch something was in the works.
"We had been trying to schedule a meeting with their local representatives for about the last three months, and they just really have come up with a variety of reasons that they were unable to meet," he said. "We have this Business First program where we call on existing companies and talk about their operations. That kind of raised some red flags at the time. But, again, they’ve not provided us any kind of direction until we got the phone call this morning."
Before Kellogg, the plant at 3700 Victory Drive was known as Keebler and Sunshine Biscuits. A popular product that has been baked there are Cheez-It snack crackers.
Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co. last November announced a major restructuring dubbed "Project K," one in which it plans to close some facilities, consolidate production lines and open new plants elsewhere in an effort to become more profitable. In February, the firm disclosed it will idle a cookie plant in Charlotte, N.C., by the end of this year, eliminating 195 jobs. A facility in Cincinnati, Ohio, also was cutting two production lines.
The cereal and snack company has felt pressure as more consumers have either cut back on cereal and snacks amid the slow economy or opted for healthier options.
Kellogg is scheduled to report its quarterly earnings on Wednesday. The company's stock was trading at $65 and change Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.
Murphy said the chamber will now work to find other job opportunities for those Kellogg workers who want to remain in Columbus and not relocate to another plant as part of the consolidation. Kellogg has more than three dozen facilities across the Southeast alone.
"We’ve certainly got a number of other snack-producing companies that fortunately seem to be doing very well, including Hostess and Snyder’s-Lance," he said. "But we also have some other job expansions that are happening where there might be opportunities to get some of these employees who choose to stay here in Columbus retrained for jobs at companies that are currently undergoing some pretty significant expansions."
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