- Dozens of manufacturing workers in Phillips could face hard times in the next few months. The Georgia-Pacific plant in town will close on October 27, and 53 employees will be laid off.
Georgia-Pacific told us the workers are great, but a poor market for specialty wood board products is forcing the closure.
The plant closure could be a challenge for those laid-off workers, but it could also be an opportunity for a new career.
Georgia-Pacific called the dean of Northcentral Technical College's Phillips campus last Friday. That was right after the company told workers about the layoffs.
"Georgia-Pacific is very interested in making sure that their dislocated workers have opportunities to stay in Price County, and they look to Northcentral Technical College to partner with them," said Bobbi Damrow, a Northcentral Technical College (NTC) Regional Dean who serves the Phillips campus.
NTC may be a landing place for some of those employees to take classes or earn a new degree. The tech college will work with the company to lay out future options for workers.
"Individuals can decide if they would like to go directly into another manufacturing environment, or if they would like to come back to school, and perhaps embark on a brand new career," Damrow said.
Tech colleges like NTC specialize in serving non-traditional learners, like people who've been laid off. It educated many of them in the area during the recession. NTC programs are geared toward the industries in Price County.
"When they complete their programming, they can stay in Price County, and most probably find a job in their new skills," Damrow said.
The Phillips plant will close on October 27. That's in the middle of the school semester. But NTC will likely offer classes starting around that time to serve people laid off from Georgia-Pacific.
"It's our commitment to Georgia-Pacific and the local workers that are interested in coming back for some lifelong learning experiences to offer them very flexible offerings," Damrow said.