Procter & Gamble cutting 500 jobs in Iowa City

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Today, we learned more than 500 jobs are leaving Iowa City.

Proctor and Gamble is shifting its shampoo and body wash production lines to a West Virginia plant. Those divisions are at P&G's facility along Highway 6. It's one of three facilities the company runs in Iowa City with about 1200 workers in total. The shift will cut 500 jobs from the Iowa City location by the year 2020. 200 jobs will be added to the West Virginia plants. P&G said some will be able to transfer to other locations, but the Iowa City Area Development Group wants to try to keep those 500 people here.

"While it's a sad day right now we will do all we can to minimize the impact and hopefully have some growth come out of this," said Mark Nolte, the president of the Iowa City Area Development Group.

Nolte said a cut of 500 workers is tough on the city, but at least there's two years to adjust.

"If this was happening overnight, this would be very problematic but we've got some time to work with these folks and find them the right positions and bring in the right employers," said Nolte.

The Iowa City shift follows a pattern for P&G. The company has closed several plants nationwide in recent years, shifting to fewer, larger facilities for efficiency's sake.

"It's about reaching consumers who buy our products and the retail customers who sell our products faster and more efficiently and more cost effective," said Jeff LeRoy, a communications manager with P&G.

LeRoy said the company will try to keep as many employees as possible.

"We can make no promises and there's no guarantees but it's important to realize that just in the past year we've hired 150 people in our power toothbrush business here in Iowa City," said LeRoy.

"The kind of caliber of people that work at P&G are well sought after by other employers so I would hope that we will be able to find jobs for all these folks," said Nolte.

Nolte said the community will come together to help each other out.

"I think this is one of the fastest growing cities in the state and this isn't going to change that. It will be a different opportunity in different ways," said Nolte.

Procter and Gamble will conduct a study this year to figure out what to do with what will be a lot of empty space at the shampoo and body wash location.

Procter & Gamble announced plans to shift product lines from one of its three Iowa City plants, taking about 500 jobs out of the area with them.

In a news release Wednesday, the company said it will transfer its shampoo, conditioner and body wash departments from Iowa City to a new plant in West Virginia.

The company said the shift will cut 500 jobs at the Iowa City location. About 700 P&G workers will stay in Iowa City. Those employees work on Oral B power and manual toothbrushes as well as rinse and mouthwashes.

P&G says the move is a result of a 2013 study to find more efficiencies in production. The company has closed several plants in the last six years as it shifts to fewer, larger factories and production plants.

"Decisions like this are never easy, but we are communicating this decision more than two years in advance to help our employees plan for the future," the company said in a release.

Procter & Gamble has three locations in Iowa City. The shampoo line makes Pantene and Head & Shoulder products and the dental care line produces toothbrushes and rinses for Oral B. The company says it will conduct a study on the best use for the vacated space once the shampoo lines move out.

The Oral B power brush line expanded just last year into a former Menards building on Highway 1, adding 150 jobs.

The company is also closing its Kansas City plant and moving operations to West Virginia.

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