Greg Kindle, president of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council, responded to some questions from the Wyandotte Daily today about the closing of the 113-year-old Procter and Gamble plant in Kansas City, Kansas.
The plant is scheduled for closing in late 2020, according to a company announcement today.
Question: UG administration says it didn’t know about P&G proposing to move – did you? I wonder why the UG wasn’t asked to provide an alternative bid or a solution of some kind?
Answer: No one at the local level was engaged in the decision made by Procter & Gamble. This was a surprise announcement to us. Our understanding is that this was a corporate decision based on customer location, distribution centers and proximity of their manufacturing facilities.
Question: The company said there were 280 FT jobs affected, and others are reporting an additional 350 contract workers and suppliers. Are there other companies in this metro area that will be affected, do you think? What do you think is a total dollar estimate of the overall economic effect of a plant closure?
Answer: Procter & Gamble has 280 full time employees with many of them being union positions. They have also had up to 350 contract workers that are not technically Procter & Gamble employees. In time, those workers will be redeployed to other companies in the region. We have inquired about the impact to the local supply chain but don’t yet know the full impact. I don’t have an estimate of the economic impact. Keep in mind that the facility will continue operations under the plan presented into 2020. During that time, we will be coordinating with partners like Workforce Partnership and others to identify other employment options and begin marketing the site/facility for a future use. We have a strong manufacturing presence and the need for skilled employees is in high demand. Over the last several years, we have seen a number of new and expanded manufacturing operations in Wyandotte County so we are optimistic for the future.
Question: Do you think other factors were involved besides the ones stated?
Answer: I am not aware of any other factors being involved in the decision.
Question: What do you think, going forward, that KCK will need to do to rebound from this?
Answer: I think we will rebound well. This is certainly not the news we had hoped for but in the larger Wyandotte County economy, there are over 10,000 manufacturing jobs in the community. At any given time there are over 1,500 open jobs in the manufacturing sector – most with very good wages and benefits. The key is making sure we get access to the employees who are staying in the community and connect them to other great companies. And, we will want to get engaged with their corporate real estate team as soon as we can to begin marketing the site for a future use.
Question: KCK has had some new jobs in recent years at the Amazon plant, and they were supposed to be $13 to $15 an hour. How does that compare to the jobs that are at the P&G plant?
Answer: The jobs at Amazon do pay $13 or more plus benefits. Pay at Procter & Gamble is good but I cannot give you that information due to confidentiality.
Question: Do you think P&G employees will be able to get comparable paying jobs in the community here — how is the labor market now?
Answer: Highly skilled employees like those at Procter & Gamble are sought after on a daily basis. Unemployment is at historic lows throughout the region so we do believe that folks should be well positioned to find new employment. Some employees may also choose to relocate to other Procter & Gamble facilities across the country.
I do think it’s worth noting that while we are sad about the decision made by Procter & Gamble, it’s important to also celebrate the 113 years this company and the many employees who have worked at this plant. We should take great pride in the wonderful products that have been produced here over the years. Procter & Gamble at both the corporate level and the employees have been good to the community over the years and that shouldn’t be overlooked. We will move forward and chart a new path for this site – it’s what we do.
To see an earlier story about the Procter and Gamble closing, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/pg-to-close-manufacturing-plant-in-kck/.