Plant Closing In Picayune

One of Picayune's oldest and largest employers is closing, leaving 80 people without jobs. The B-Way manufacturing plant, located in the Picayune Industrial Park, will shutdown in about six months. The impact on the city economy and workers is expected to be great.

Charles Porter has worked at B-Way for 23 years. The line maintenance man says he and his co-workers were not surprised to hear the plant was closing.

"I'm not to happy about it, but you read in the paper, see it in the news, places shutting down all over the world. It's just our turn, I guess."

B-Way manufactures cans for Folgers coffee. But Folgers is switching to plastic containers, something the Picayune plant isn't equipped to make.

B-Way opened in 1968 under the name Brockway Standard Container. It started with a handful of employees, but soon grew to be one of the highest paying employers in the area.

"This is going to be a major set back for our local economy," Picayune City Manager J.P Burns said. "We have a potential of a couple of other businesses coming to Picayune, which we're not at liberty to disclose. But still, if you lose 80 employees out of an area the size of Picayune, that's a pretty severe hit on our economy."

B-Way employees are being laid off in phases. Last week eight people were let go. Another 18 will be unemployed at the end of October. The bulk of the layoffs will come in February.

Picayune's Mayor Pro-Tem Leavern Guy said the gradual phase out will allow for some of the employees to get through the holiday season with a paycheck.

City leaders are working with the state employment service to find jobs for the displaced workers. Most of the long time employees will be given severance packages, or offers to relocate to one of the company's ten other plants across the United States. The facility will close for good in April.

by Al Showers