Augusta preparing for Berry Global layoffs

Christy Howell-Hoots - [email protected]

AUGUSTA — Impending layoffs at Berry Global are expected to make an impact on the city’s payroll tax.

On Thursday, Berry Global announced it would be reducing its workforce.

“The reduction in force will take place during the coming months. The impacted employees hold various manufacturing and non-manufacturing positions,” a statement from Berry Global said.

Wendell High, mayor of Augusta, said the city is looking at a heavy loss in payroll taxes.

“I’ve been looking through our budget to find ways to make up for the payroll tax loss,” High said. “We’re not sure of the exact numbers — that will depend on the amount of layoffs and we don’t know those numbers yet. One person being laid off is too many.”

High said the city is in danger of losing other forms of revenue as well.

“You have to remember that people who work at Berry also shop in our stores, they visit our gas stations and grocery stores,” he said. “It’s a bad day for Augusta.”

However, High also said the city will not be devastated financially.

“We’re still going to be alright,” he said. “We won’t be in as great of shape as I’d like us to be, but I think we’ll be alright.

The city of Augusta has Berry Global listed on the agenda for Wednesday’s city council meeting. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Clooney Community Center.

Lisa McCane, superintendent of the Augusta Independent School District said board of education members have planned to discuss the layoffs during the October meeting of the school board, though she is unsure what it will mean for the district.

“It’s too early to tell at this point,” McCane said. “It could certainly impact our district, but it’s just too early for us to know much. It’s something we will be monitoring closely. The announcement has caught our attention.”

Bracken County Judge-Executive Earl Bush said the layoffs will not affect the county financially, but it will personally.

“The effect is going to be on the people who live and work there,” he said. “It’s a big blow when something like this happens to a small area.”

The Augusta facility employs approximately 330 individuals, and is part of Berry’s Health, Hygiene, and Specialties Division. The facility produces films, laminates, and adhesives for a variety of markets, according to the statement.

Berry made public its intention to buy Clopay for $475 million in November 2017. The transaction was completed in February 2018.

Although the company did not identify which product line was lost, prompting the cutbacks, it was a major supplier of diaper film to Proctor and Gamble.

Clopay first began production in Augusta in the late 1950s and at one time manufactured Hula Hoops during the height of the craze and also at one time made plastic food wrap.

The statement released by Berry indicated it would work with those affected by the layoffs.

“The Company will work diligently with those impacted to secure a position within the local community or at another Berry facility,” according to the statement.

Christy Howell-Hoots

[email protected]