MRP officially closes its doors

Published 12:05 am Thursday, November 1, 2012

NATCHEZ — Employees of Mississippi River Pulp will report to the company’s Majorca Road facility today, but not for work.

The pulp recycling plant officially shut down Wednesday, just eight days after it announced it would be ceasing operations in Natchez.

But Thursday, the area’s rapid response team will be at the MRP plant in an effort to help the 79 employees who lost their jobs find work quickly.

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WIN Job Center Director Peggy Ballard said the company’s management was kind enough to allow the rapid response team to use the site to meet with the laid-off workers.

“What we do is go in and find out what (the employees’) interests are and what their skills are,” Ballard said.

“We will tell them what they need to do to file for unemployment benefits, find out what their needs are, do they need some training to gain a new skill, do they need something as basic as basic computer skills, and we will try to arrange that.”

Though the official plant closure wasn’t until Wednesday, only a handful of cars were in its parking lot at the end of the day shift, and an evening shift did not go in. After the announcement of the closure was made, an employee said the plant had at that time been idle for approximately a week after a 15-day production run.

A company official declined to comment Wednesday about the future of the facility, citing MRP’s continued effort to find a buyer for the plant.

MRP bought the former Mississippi River Corporation in 2010 shortly after MRC declared bankruptcy. Among its reasons for filing bankruptcy were lack of demand for its products, and when MRP announced the plant closure, company officials said despite their efforts otherwise they had not been able to find enough demand to keep the facility open.

The company has for several months sought a buyer for the facility and is still looking to sell the property.

While employees wait to see if the facility is bought or if it will reopen, Ballard said the WIN Job Center would help in any way possible.

“We will work with them as long as they have a need,” she said. “Some may return to work quickly, and there may be some whose skills do not fit in with our workforce, so we anticipate working with them anywhere form several weeks to several months, but certainly as long as the need is there.”

The MRP facility opened in 1991.