‘This can’t be happening:’ Taylor County Commissioners react to closing of Foley mill

The commissioners said they were shocked to hear of the impending closure
Community responds to closure of Foley Cellulose mill
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 10:31 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2023 at 10:33 PM EDT
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PERRY, FL. (WCTV) - The Taylor County community is scrambling to figure out what’s next after the area’s biggest employer announced it would be shutting down.

Georgia-Pacific announced Monday it plans to close the Foley Cellulose mill in Perry. Georgia-Pacific said this will leave 525 people without jobs.

Local elected officials discussed Tuesday what they will be doing in the coming months to help those impacted. County commissioners held a special meeting at noon and also talked about the issue at their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday evening.

Commissioner Pam Feagle said she was shocked when she first heard the news.

“I was devastated,” Feagle told WCTV. “I thought, ‘This can’t be happening. This can’t be true. This is our livelihood here.’”

Commissioner Thomas Demps had a similar reaction.

Commissioners said their top priority is making sure those impacted by the shutdown have ample opportunity to find a new job.

“We’re a strong community,” Feagle said. “We help each other. We’re resilient.”

Feagle said a task force has already been created to identify potential buyers for the plant, with the hope that it could be taken over by another company.

As of now, employees are continuing to clock in. Georgia-Pacific said a schedule hasn’t been finalized of when the plant will officially shut down. In the meantime, Taylor County residents are bracing for impact.

“We just went through a hurricane, and we were hit hard with it,” Feagle said. “And now, what, three weeks later, and we have an economic disaster facing us.”

Georgia-Pacific said the decision to shut down the mill was made before Hurricane Idalia, but that the storm complicated the situation because of impacts to the mill’s equipment. You can read more of the company’s response here.

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