The exodus of International Paper Corp. employees ended Wednesday, when the final 100 workers left the shuttered paper mill for the last time.
"It will be pretty quiet there after today," said company spokeswoman Donna Wadsworth. Though operations at the mill have stopped, a provisional crew of 30 will handle facility upkeep and records management, she said.Approximately 1,100 workers have lost their jobs since the first round of layoffs began Dec. 31, weeks after the company's November announcement that it would close its southern Isle of Wight facility.
Meanwhile, the company is reviewing 14 proposals it received this spring from prospective buyers for the plant, Wadsworth said. Company officials have said most of the proposals were for renewable energy sources.
Although International Paper doesn't have a time frame for making a decision, Franklin Mayor Jim Councill said the company has told him it hopes to make an announcement by fall.
Isle of Wight Economic Development Director Lisa Perry said International Paper's discussions about future plans for the facilities have remained internal thus far.
Approximately 300 of the displaced workers have found new jobs, with many of them going to Northrop Grumman, Councill said. Others are taking advantage of the opportunity to return to school for training in other careers, he said.
Opportunity Inc., the organization spearheading efforts to help displaced workers, as well as the Virginia Employment Commission and other agencies that have operated out of the company headquarters for the past six months, have moved their operations to the nearby Paul D. Camp Community College Workforce Development Center, Councill said.
Those organizations will stay in Franklin until the majority of displaced workers have found employment, Councill said.
"This is another sad day for us," Councill said.
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