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Procter & Gamble Will Close 100-Year-Old Plant In Kansas City, Kansas

Raymond Clarke
Flickr - CC

Procter & Gamble has announced that it will close its manufacturing plant in Kansas City, Kansas.

Employees heard the news Wednesday morning. The plant primarily produces dish soap such as Dawn and Ivory; all of its production will transfer to a new site in Tabler Station, West Virginia by 2020, effectively putting 280 full-time employees out of work.

The Procter & Gamble news comes just a week after the Kansas City Harley-Davidson plant announced its closing.

According to Frank Lenk, director of research services for the Mid-America Research Council (MARC), the metro area should expect to see as many as 800 jobs lost as a result of this closure. 

That's because manufacturers tend to use local suppliers, and loss of income for these workers means lower spending in the local economy.

"This could be millions of dollars of income lost to the region," Lenk says. 

In fact, he says, the two closures may result in an income loss of around $48 million, and a loss in overall economic output of about $83 million, for the greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area.

These calculations don't take into consideration the additional 350 contract workers that Proctor & Gamble says are currently employed at the plant. Lenk says factoring those in could double his projections.

Credit Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library
Kansas City Public Library
A photograph of the Procter and Gamble Complex, taken in approximately 1930, is among the images in the Kansas City Public Library's Missouri Valley Special Collections.

Procter & Gamble's Kansas City facility was built in 1905. Wyandotte Economic Development Council President Greg Kindle says he is sad to see it close. Kindle says he attended a meeting with Procter & Gamble officials a few weeks ago, which left him with the impression that the company was pleased with both the workforce and location of the Kansas City facility.

"So, this was a huge shock to us," he says. "After over 100 years with Procter & Gamble, you really have pride in the products made and the quality of those products that are very well known in the marketplace."

Kindle says his top priority is finding out why this happened, and finding new jobs for the employees. He says he's confident that manufacturing employees are highly sought-after. 

Unlike other regions around the country, the Kansas City area has been good at retaining manufacturing jobs over the last decade. But that might be changing, Lenk says.

"We're good at 20th century products — cars, motorcycles, consumer products," he says. "But are we good at producing 21st century products? We'll see."

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Email her at andreat@kcur.org.

Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
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