DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Georgia-Pacific told its 140 workers at its Duluth plant on Tuesday that it will permanently close the plant at the end of the month.

The news came as a disappointment to Mayor Don Ness, who said in a statement that the company previously had assured him it would keep the plant open.

"We will start working immediately to support new operations at the plant," Ness said. "Meanwhile, our focus will be on the work force that will be displaced. This is unfortunate and untimely news for our community."

The plant manufactures a thin hardboard product called Superwood that's used in the auto industry. Georgia-Pacific will shift the manufacturing of Superwood to other facilities, the company said.

"The employees are welcome to apply for any other jobs we have" at other facilities, said Eric Abercrombie, Georgia-Pacific spokesman in Atlanta.

"We realize this is a difficult decision and it is going to impact the community," Abercrombie said. "The decision was made after a thorough review to optimize the business. That was based on the long-term vision for Georgia-Pacific wood products."

Under state law, employees must be given 60 days of notice for a plant closure or layoff. The company said it will pay employees for 60 days and provide benefits. Manufacturing will shut down Aug. 30.

Georgia-Pacific will reallocate any useable equipment at the Duluth plant and sell remaining assets, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

The Atlanta-based company manufactures tissue, pulp, paper, packaging, building products and related chemicals.


Information from: WDIO-TV, http://www.wdio.com