In 2000, PM USA closed its cigarette manufacturing center in Louisville and has updated employees periodically on its plans to close other facilities in the area. The remaining plant will continue to operate through the fall of 2006.
"We want to thank our employees for their loyalty and hard work over the years and we regret the impact this decision will have on them," said Greg Cummings, Philip Morris USA's senior vice president of manufacturing and quality.
Of the remaining Philip Morris USA employees in Louisville, more than half are eligible to retire - many before the age of 55. The company will provide generous separation packages to eligible employees. Additionally, the company plans to offer qualified employees the opportunity to transfer to open positions in its Richmond and Cabarrus operations. The company will also offer outplacement services to employees such as job training, interviewing techniques, job search assistance and continuing education for up to three years.
"Consolidating our facilities will allow the company to be more efficient and save money in the long-term," said Cummings.
For years, the Materials Conversion Plant has perforated tipping paper which is shipped to the Richmond and Cabarrus Manufacturing Centers for use in the cigarette manufacturing process. The plant has also produced mentholated foil for domestic and international customers for some of the company's menthol brand products. Once the facility has been fully closed, the company plans to sell the property.
"Kentucky has always been an important state for Philip Morris USA and it will continue to be," said Cummings. "We are the largest tobacco purchaser in Kentucky, purchasing 95 million pounds of tobacco last year. We look forward to many years of continuing to contribute to Kentucky's economy."
Philip Morris USA has tobacco agreements with eight receiving stations in Kentucky, which provide employment for nearly 600 people. A ninth station will open this year. The company provides more than $1 million to the University of Kentucky annually in the form of scholarships and research grants. In addition, Philip Morris USA has awarded 137 scholarships in the last three years to the sons and daughters of Kentucky tobacco growers as part of its Tobacco Farmer Partnership Program.
Philip Morris USA, Inc. is an operating company of Altria Group Inc. For more information about Philip Morris USA, our products, programs and positions on tobacco-related issues, please visit us at www.philipmorrisusa.com.