- Hillshire Brands Co. announced on Friday that it will close its Florence, Alabama meat plant on December 30 of this year.
- The plant employs 1,100 people who produce breakfast sandwich and breakfast sausage cooking operations.
- Hillshire Brands determined that production from the facility will be sourced from other locations within the company’s operations network.
The Hillshire plant began operation in the 1930s as Lauderdale Farms, before becoming Florence Packing Co., Bama Meats, Jolly Green Giant, Rudy Farms, Jimmy Dean Foods, and Sara Lee. It was sold to Hillshire in September 2012. And just three and a half years later, it's announcing its closing.
This is a devastating blow to Florence, as Hillshire is one of the the biggest employers in the area that has already been wracked by the September announcement of International Paper's closing of the Courtland Mill, which will result in the loss of 1,096 jobs. Florence Mayor Mickey Haddock said he was" floored" by the news. The mayor reports that “there were some safety concerns based on the age of the plant,” according to the plant manager, Damien Williams.
Unfortunately, companies must make decisions based on their own bottom lines, even at the cost of local economies. It wasn't deemed efficient to continue operations at an outdated plant or to invest in bringing it up to date to keep the jobs there open. The only slight silver lining for the employees is that the company said it will provide severance and other assistance to employees.