Absolute Plastics laying off workers

Company received city, county incentives

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A Wilson plastic manufacturer is cutting its workforce by more than half with the first round of layoffs earlier this month, and company officials expect the layoffs to continue for several months.

“Absolute Plastics will be reducing its manufacturing footprint in Wilson, N.C.,” said CEO Paul Cobb in the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification letter to the N.C. Department of Commerce. “The decision follows the loss of significant customer volume coupled with a desire to consolidate operations to align with the current and future needs of its customers and eliminate excess manufacturing capacity.”

In 2006, Absolute Plastics moved into the former Linpac Plastics plant on Wilco Boulevard, growing to a staff of 150 people shortly after.

The company received incentives from the city and county since to expand, including $400,000 in 2008 for a $9.2 million expansion and 111 new jobs as well as $225,000 in 2014 for $11.2 million in investment and 60 new jobs.

Wilson Economic Development Executive Director Jennifer Lantz said the 2014 incentives were to be paid out over a three-year period, but only one year at $75,000 has been paid.

“The layoff will negate the remaining incentive,” she said. “The Wilson Economic Development Council is very supportive of our industries and their employees when economic conditions create a layoff situation.”

Lantz said Absolute Plastics has been a good corporate citizen and employer in Wilson, noting the incentives help a company commit to a new facility or expansion.

“No company ever chooses to locate a plant with all of the associated costs just to collect an incentive package,” she said. “The amount typically involved in an incentive package is a fraction of what a company has to spend to establish and operate a plant.”

According to the state notification, the majority of the affected employees are production-level employees. With approximately 150 employees prior to the announcement, though, the layoffs are expected to significantly reduce the staff level.