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    In January General Mills announced its preliminary decision to displace over 400 New Albany workers by closing the Pillsbury facility by the middle of 2016. If the plant is shuttered, the city loses a top 10 employer. The city has decided to pull out all the stops to keep the Poppin’ Fresh Pillsbury Doughboy, here. The powers that be put together a special committee who put together a $7 million incentive package that would mean that the city would pay to update the plant and supply it with new equipment. They’re also prepared to give them a lower tax rate if they stay.

    Handing over 7 million dollars and losing a bit of tax revenue is a big deal but consider the reasons why New Albany wants to do this. The Pillsbury factory opened in 1959 and grew into the seventh largest employer in Floyd County. Workers are part of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.  Their starting pay is $19 an hour growing to $26 an hour with employment for a year. To top it off, there’s free health insurance. Workers are said to be floored by the decision. When General Mills bought Pillsbury in 2001 there was always the specter of job cuts and plant closings. It’s the nature of corporate America. Merge with someone and eliminate the duplicate positions no matter what that does to the Average Joe.

    But 14 years later, it seems like an employee could relax in the knowledge that they survived. GM, for its part, says they have excess capacity in North America. That means the trimming is going to come from somewhere. Mayor Jeff Gahan stated he wants to work with General Mills to keep the baked goods plant open. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer understands the significance, too. He sent a letter to Gahan expressing his feeling that Pillsbury’s operation is good for the entire region. Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore also sent a letter of support.

    Where it goes from here is just speculation. Union leaders haven’t talked to General Mills about the options, if any, to keep the plant rooted in New Albany. Officials with the company haven’t talked about alternatives either. Both sides plan to talk this month.

    Photo by: farbled /

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    About Tim Girton

    Tim Girton writes about University of Louisville sports here at and his love for Louisville continues on his photoblog, called This Is Louisville.

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