Clayton News-Star

Hospira to close Clayton plant, affecting 250 workers

Hospira says it will close its plant on U.S. 70 Business in June.
Hospira says it will close its plant on U.S. 70 Business in June. ndunn@newsobserver.com

A company that has been part of biomanufacturing in Johnston County for more than a decade is closing its Clayton plant.

Hospira, which makes injectable drugs and other medical products, said on Tuesday that it will stop producing and shipping medicines from its plant on U.S. 70 Business in June.

The closing will affect 250 employees. Hospira spokeswoman Shannon Wong said the Clayton workers can apply for other jobs with the company. The company will provide placement assistance to workers who are interested in jobs at other plants, she said.

Hospira will spend about $15 million on severance, retention and other employee assistance related to the closing, the company reported in a regulatory filing.

Hospira will keep making the four products it currently produces in Clayton through June. At that point, Hospira will decide whether to produce the products at another plant, discontinue their production, transfer the products to a third-party manufacturer or sell them to another company. Wong said the company does not release details about the specific products its plants produce.

In a news release, the company said it decided to close the plant after analyzing the market needs for the four products and how the plant fits in Hospira’s operations network. The anticipated cost of modernizing the plant also played a role in the closure, the company said.

“The employees at the Clayton plant have made valuable contributions to the company and will continue to play important roles as we wind down operations in the coming months,” Matt Stober, Hospira’s senior vice president for operations, said in the statement. “I’d like to thank them for their contributions and commitment to Hospira.”

The Lake Forest, Ill.-based company bought the more than 100,000 square-foot plant in 2004 from Germany’s Fresenius Kabi, which had shifted its U.S. nutritional fluid production to Sweden. A year later, the company announced a $15 million expansion and plans to hire more workers.

Hospira, along with nearby biomanufacturers Grifols and Novo Nordisk, became part of a cluster of growing companies that helped shape what was once farmland into a thriving industrial corridor. Chris Johnson, director of Johnston County Economic Development, said it’s disconcerting any time the county loses a long-standing business.

“We will have a facility there that we will need to fill,” Johnson said. “More importantly, we have citizens in Johnston County who work there who will need to find a job.”

Johnson said Johnston Community College and others are talking to Hospira’s Clayton workers about training opportunities that might make their transition to another job easier.

“We are optimistic that with an emerging pharmaceutical business climate within the Triangle region, and particularly here in Johnston County with the Research Training Zone, another pharmaceutical manufacturer will fill the void,” Johnson said.

Clayton Mayor Jody McLeod said Hospira has been a valued employer. He said his heart goes out to each of the displaced workers.

“It’s a setback for our area but only a temporary one,” McLeod said. “Clayton has become a mini-hub of global pharmaceutical giants, and we’re confident those companies will continue to expand and attract others to make their home in this community.”

The company employs about 19,000 people throughout the world, including about 3,000 at other plants in North Carolina.

Hospira’s Clayton plant is next to a larger campus operated by the blood-plasma maker Grifols. However, the two plants don’t have anything in common, said Grifols spokeswoman Rebecca Barnes.

Wong said the company is actively looking for a buyer. At this time, Grifols does not have an interest in the Hospira plant, Barnes said.

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