CLINTON — The Clinton Regional Development Corp. is simultaneously taking steps to try to reverse a decision by Evergreen Packaging to close its Clinton facility, and to help the soon-to-be dislocated workers connect with future employment opportunities.
Following the announcement last week that the plant at 1500 S. 14th St. would be permanently closed by Sept. 1, the CRDC reached out to Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Durham was asked whether she, or the office of Gov. Terry Branstad, was willing to contact Evergreen’s corporate office in an attempt to work out terms under which the company would keep open the facility.
Durham asked for a detailed briefing on the situation, which CRDC is working to provide at this time.
“At this point the odds of a turnaround as a result (of communication between Durham and Evergreen) are slim,” said CRDC President Mike Kirchhoff, “but we don’t want to leave any stone unturned.”
Kirchhoff also is making inroads with Evergreen’s human resources department to get a detailed profile of the company’s workforce, including the skill sets and terms of service of the 107 employees who will be affected.
He hopes to have direct communication with the employees, and has been in contact with United Steel Workers (USW) International staff representative David Rizzuto to discuss how the CRDC and the union can work cooperatively on behalf of the workers who will be displaced.
In addition to a planned rapid response through the regional IowaWORKS office, which offers retraining and guidance to dislocated workers and other services, Kirchhoff is working to arrange a job fair exclusively for Evergreen employees, with local employers who have a potential interest in hiring them.
He also is reaching out to the Small Business Administration, which also offers programs to assist dislocated workers. For example, the SBA may be able to present a workshop for those interested in investing money from a 401(k) or similar fund in starting a new business.