Jonesboro plant announces closing, 600 jobs at risk

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- Approximately 600 people could be without a job after the closing of a plant in Jonesboro.

Quad/Graphics, formerly known as Quebecor World Color, is scheduled to be closed by the fourth quarter of this year according to

In a press release, the company states that the plant employs approximately 600 people. The company said they will help those employees find other jobs within the company.

The website states that the facility is closing as the company "continues to consolidate work onto its most efficient and competitive manufacturing platforms."

President, CEO and Chairman of Quad/Graphics, Joel Quadracci, is quoted on the website saying:

"We continue to make the bold and necessary moves to strengthen our platform and overall competitive position and create value for our clients and shareholders."

We spoke with Director of Corporate Communications, Claire Ho. Ho made the following statement to Region 8 News:

"As you can imagine, decisions like these are difficult to make and difficult to share as they impact people's lives," Ho told Region 8 News. "Our immediate priority is to meet face-to-face with all our employees to share the news and answer their questions. The Jonesboro facility has a long tradition of client service and satisfaction, and through the years has performed admirably," Ho said.

David Couch owns Couch's Bar-B-Q less than a block from Quad/Graphics.  "It's going to hurt for a while. It's not just me that's going to be hurting because I'm close to them for lunch. It's not just restaurants. It's everybody," said Couch, who says they've bee located at East Nettleton for 45 years and seen the many faces of Quad/Graphics. "It's been sold three of four times now," said Couch.

Couch says the closure just adds to a list of business closures in the city since the beginning of the year. "Startek, Quebecor, the Jonesboro Post Office. That's 1,000 jobs. We just tighten our belts and just go on about our business," said Couch.

We spoke to Mayor Harold Perrin by phone, from Washington D.C., he says he didn't see this coming. "Honestly it comes as a shock. The fact that the city of Jonesboro just last August passed a resolution to seek grant funding for them to add an additional 35 jobs," said Perrin.

In a city that has seemed to dodge the bullet during the economy down turn, the start of 2012 has been tough. Leaving the question...where does the city go from here?

"Jonesboro has always been in the forefront of continuing to look for opportunities everyday and that's what you have to do in economic development. Because you're going to have these announcements, you just have to take those and go forward," said Perrin.

Perrin says the benefit is knowing sooner rather than later. "The good news is I'd rather hear it now than wait till November and then trying to find someone to come to Jonesboro," said Perrin.

As for Couch, he remains optimistic. "We can only cross and fingers and hope somebody does come by and buy Quebecor. Lets just hope we don't have anymore layoffs," said Couch.

Even before the announcement, the site has had its share of economic hardships. Quebecor World Color, the previous owner of the plant, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January of 2008. At that time, almost 800 people were employed there.

According to the company's own website, World Color was sold to Quad/Graphics in 2010 for a reported $1.4 billion. At the time, that made Quad/Graphics the second largest printing company in North America.

Quad/Graphics is a global provider of print and related multi channel solutions. The company is headquartered in Sussex, Wisconsin.

Region 8 News will continue to track this story and bring you the latest developments as they emerge.

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