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Second Chicago Packaging Company Announces Plans To Close Up Shop

Another Chicago packaging plant — the second in one week — will be closing its doors by the end of the year, according to a notice filed with the Illinois WorkNet Center.

Atlanta-based WestRock Co. will shutter its 9540 South Dorchester Ave. location, cutting 73 positions effective Nov. 30, the company said in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filing late last week. The paper and packaging producer makes folding cartons at the 1970s-era Dorchester Avenue facility, per its website, which listed five other WestRock locations within 25 miles of the city.

WestRock's facility on South Dorchester Avenue in Chicago

The plant closure is part of an ongoing effort to boost efficiency, WestRock Senior Manager of Corporate Communications Robby Johnson told Bisnow in an email. Since rolling out its footprint optimization strategy early this year, the company has closed plants in Tacoma, Washington; North Charleston, South Carolina; and St. Louis, among other locations.

WestRock CEO David Sewell earlier this year said the company was consolidating and shifting production to more efficient facilities to meet a target of $200M in savings by the end of last month.

“We intend to continue these mill evaluations with a focus on driving growth with our most efficient assets,” Sewell said during a May earnings call. “Closing facilities is never easy, and we are working closely with our employees and our customers to support them as we move forward with these plans.”

Johnson told Bisnow the closure was unconnected to WestRock’s potential $11B merger with Irish paper and packaging producer Smurfit Kappa, announced last month. The marriage of Europe’s largest industry player and the second-largest U.S. manufacturer in the space would create a $20B behemoth, becoming the world's biggest paper and packaging company, Reuters reported.

Set on just under an acre, the Chicago property last sold for $43.25M in 2017, per county assessor records.

The plant closure comes a week after Wisconsin-based Menasha Packaging, a company that produces shipping boxes, displays and packs, filed a WARN notice announcing its intention to close its 150K SF facility at 4545 West Palmer St.