Many IP workers finding jobs

Published 10:06 pm Saturday, May 22, 2010

FRANKLIN — An unofficial survey of displaced employees at International Paper Co.’s Franklin mill suggests that at least 25 percent have either started a new job or accepted a job offer.

Randy Betz, vice president for workforce development at Paul D. Camp Community College, has been compiling job information about mill workers since October, when IP announced that it would close the mill by spring. The mill ceased production last month.

“The tremendous news is that as of this morning, 275 mill employees have either started their new jobs or have accepted job offers,” Betz said Friday. “That’s an encouraging number and some really good news.”

Email newsletter signup

Betz said the 275 figure, which is exactly 25 percent of the 1,100 who were working at the mill when the closure was announced Oct. 22, includes salaried and hourly employees.

“I believe in the survey’s accuracy,” he said. “I am constantly asking everyone I know in the community about everyone they know. When I get the information, I write it down and keep a running tab. But I believe it’s pretty accurate.”

Betz said 42 industries, businesses, organizations and government agencies have hired former IP workers. Two businesses, Northrop Grumman and IP itself, have taken in many of the workers.

“Northrop Grumman has been involved since the announcement of the closure,” Betz said. “And International Paper itself has been redeploying employees to other facilities in the Southeast. Those folks have done a lot of heavy lifting in the re-employment.”

Betz estimated that more than half of the employees who have found new jobs are working locally or within commuting distance, meaning they won’t have to relocate.

“These figures are significantly higher than what I was able to identify less than two weeks ago. Lots of people are getting jobs, and that’s terrific news for the displaced employees and their families.”