Stillwater News Press

Local News

October 19, 2011

Stillwater faces impact of Quad/Graphics closing

STILLWATER, Okla. — The closing of the local Quad/Graphics plant will be a tough blow to Stillwater and former employees, which will require the support of others in the community, according to one local economic expert.

Quad/Graphics announced Monday it would shut down its Stillwater location, which employs 240 people. The plant will begin stepping down operations in December and end production next May, according to an announcement.

The Stillwater location has gone through several ownership changes. The plant was owned by Quebecor Printing before that company merged with World Color Press or Worldcolor. Worldcolor was acquired by Quad/Graphics in July 2010. That acquisition was the reason stated in a release this week for the closing of the Stillwater plant.

When the two companies merged, both were producing at approximately 50 percent of their capacity, according to Josh McKim, director of economic development for the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce. McKim said this meant that company was likely to start consolidating its locations.

“We knew the facility was on a watch list for about a year,” he said. “We made it through several rounds of closures.”

McKim said the local chamber worked with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and other state agencies to find certain programs and incentives to secure the Stillwater facility’s future, and he said he had every indication that the company wasn’t closing the plant until the announcement came Monday.

“This will definitely be a tough blow for us,” McKim said. “It isn’t just (240) jobs. It’s (240) families. So many times when we talk numbers we lose the fact that it is not just a number. It’s people and their families.”

He said that the facility’s impact extends beyond jthose families because the Quad/Graphics facility is the kind of industry job that exports a product to other areas and brings in money from outside the area.

“This is what we consider a wealth-generating industry,” McKim said. “It could have a ripple effect.”

He added that there are other jobs being produced with new businesses that could absorb some of the employees 10 to 20 at a time. McKim also said there is a need for community support of those who lost their jobs, which Stillwater has given before.

“That’s why I’m proud of Stillwater. When something like this happens, Stillwater rallies ... around these people,” he said.

John Carpenter, who is a public information officer with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, said OESC personnel spoke with Quad/Graphics human resources department Tuesday.

Carpenter said that the OESC and Workforce Oklahoma deploy what are called “rapid response teams” to locations when larger groups lose their jobs. The teams meet with businesses and workers to talk about unemployment benefits and opportunities for job training.

Carpenter also said they can hold workshops on resume writing or interview skills. He said services are similar to what is offered normally by the groups, but they try to take those services to locations where there is a large concentration of lost jobs. Carpenter said the teams have done similar work when the MerCruiser facility announced it would be closing.

The OESC is meeting with the Quad/Graphics Human Resources Department this week to set up rapid response meetings.

A manager at the Stillwater Quad/Graphics plant who was contacted for this story said he felt it was inappropriate to comment at this time.

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