Quanah, Texas (From news reports) -- After decades, the Georgia Pacific Gypsum plant is closing its doors and moving out of the Quanah area, leaving over 150 employees uncertain about their future.
The company has been a staple of Quanah for generations, with many community members either having worked there or having a family member who has.
Now, community leaders say this is a blow to the work they have been doing for years to try and grow the community.
"We have a vast dependence on the plant, just because of payroll, because they are the livelihood of very many of our families.," says Tom Johnson, superintendent of Quanah ISD
Johnson says the Quanah ISD schools are significantly up in enrollment but is afraid the employees from Georgia pacific will leave Quanah to find work elsewhere, taking with them a large portion of the already small population.
"We hate so lose something that has been such a huge part of our community, and we just don't want the potential loss of population because Quanah is a good place," said Johnson "Quanah has a lot of things going for it, we are seeing an upsurge in population and we want to keep the people here."
In addition to students, many spouses of Georgia Pacific employees are teachers, which would cause a loss in workers, teachers, and students.
"We rely on these workers for our tax dollars, buying grocery stores, buying gas and shopping at our local stores," said Shane Lance, city councilman for Quanah and Editor/Owner of Quanah Tribune-Chief "In the past several years, between the city, the economic development corporation and others, we have been working very hard to gain ground in our town and move us forward. Now we feel by losing 150 jobs, we will be taking 100 steps back."
The company will be opening up a new 285-million-dollar facility near Sweetwater, Texas. They say this location will keep logistic cost low and give them more access to trucks and products.
Georgia Pacific will also move the production that comes out of the acme facility near Quanah to Fletcher, Oklahoma.
The company says they plan to close the facility near Quanah in two years.
"We know this is very very challenging for the community of Quanah. We are committed to that area, to do what we can, but again, this was a business decision and it wasn't taken lightly," said Yana Ogletree, public affairs manager at Georgia Pacific "Again, we want to be transparent, we want to treat our employees right, we want to treat the community right, and that is why we are doing two plush years out."
Georgia Pacific is offering the employees a transfer to other facilities within the company or pay for skills training.
Lance is planning a town hall to discuss this decision with the community and state representatives.