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Labor Dept. Puts Up $7.5M to Retrain Former Paper Mill Employees

The mill was in operation for more than 100 years and was the largest employer in the area.

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The U.S. Department of Labor last week awarded more than $2.5 million to support employment and training services for people in western North Carolina affected by the closure of Pactiv Evergreen's Canton paper mill as well as the company’s reduction in operations at its Waynesville facility.

Some 1,100 workers lost their jobs when the plant in Canton shut down earlier this month. While Pactiv is also reducing staffing at its extrusion facility in Waynesville, it is seeking "strategic alternatives" for the plant.

Administered by the DOL's Employment and Training Administration, the award to the North Carolina Department of Commerce is the first increment of a National Dislocated Worker Grant worth some $7.5 million that will allow the state to provide retraining and skills development for dislocated workers in Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, Swain and Transylvania counties.

Pactiv announced the plant closure in March 2023 as part of an effort to restructure the company's beverage merchandising operations. The company is a major North American manufacturer of fresh food and beverage packaging.

Pactiv is providing severance and other resources, including local events, continuing education and career days. The company is also working with state and local officials to try and repurpose the mill, which was in operation for more than 100 years and the largest employer in the area. 

Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, National Dislocated Worker Grants provide a state or local board with funding for direct services and assistance in areas experiencing a major economic dislocation event that leads to workforce needs exceeding available resources.

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