Packaging plant warns employees of impending layoffs

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Graham Packaging Company issued a WARN notice to 115 employees at its Harrisonburg operation last month and announced a plan to close down the site.

In a statement, the Pennsylvania-based manufacturer said the decision to close was "difficult but necessary" to allow it to "evolve to meet [...] customers' changing needs."

"We are very grateful to the team at the Harrisonburg plant for their hard work over the years, and this decision is in no way a reflection of the capabilities and dedication of our plant workforce," the statement read. "We are working with affected employees to help them find new employment, both within Graham or in their community."

"Anytime you lose a company with that many employees, it's got to feel a little bit of a sting," said Frank Tamberrino, the President & CEO of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce.

He said the region's diverse economy offers some stability when a major layoff is announced.

"The fact that we don't have a single major employer — like a large auto plant, a large factory. We do have some distribution centers but not one that dominates the economy of the area," Tamberrino said.

While Graham may be packing up shop in the Friendly City, Tamberrino said the growing search for space among other businesses looking to set up in the Shenandoah Valley may mean the building will not stay vacant for long.

"A competitor, maybe a customer, maybe a local investment group, looks at the facility, looks at the long term track record of the company here, of the employment base and says, 'this may be a pretty good investment,'" he said.