A plastics company in eastern North Carolina that benefited from grants made by the Golden Leaf Foundation and the state of North Carolina is shutting down its operations and laying off all its employees.
General Foam Plastics, which makes pools, Christmas trees and water pumps, informed the N.C. Department of Commerce last week that it would close its Tarboro plant and all 215 employees would lose their jobs.
According to the notice, the layoffs would begin on Oct. 15 and the plant would close no later than Dec. 31.
General Foam, which is based in Virginia Beach, Va., gave no reason for shuttering the plant. The notice to Commerce referenced a severance package for the affected employees but did not provide details.
No one at General Foam could be reached for comment.
“You just hate to lose that tax base, and the income it provides to citizens” Troy Lewis, Tarboro’s town manager, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
The decision to close follows large investments in the town’s infrastructure in 2015 by the Golden Leaf Foundation and the Department of Commerce that were made on the basis of General Foam plans.
The state granted the town $750,000 for a utility upgrade: a new generator that would help with peak loads, periods with very high energy demands, said David Rhoades, the communications director for the Department of Commerce. The Golden Leaf Foundation provided a $250,000 grant toward the generator.
The investments were contingent upon General Foam’s contributing $300,000 toward the new generator.
The company met its requirements, investing $2.3 million in machinery and equipment and hiring 100 full-time workers.
Rhoades pointed out that the state’s investments were in Tarboro, not General Foam.
“That grant was to the city of Tarboro,” Rhoades said. “The infrastructure remains.”
It is unclear whether existing or new companies will need the generator. Rhoades could not speak to whether any of the town’s other companies require or benefit from this kind of generating capacity.
Lewis, the town manager, said “the town is working hard to find someone to go into that space or to create another company to make up that difference, but obviously it’s difficult any time that many people are out of work.”
Edgecombe County’s unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in June and the average annual wage is $32,642.