Governor, AEDC competing with Wisconsin to save Kimberly Clark jobs in Conway
LITTLE ROCK, AR (Talk Business & Politics) - Arkansas economic development officials are in near daily contact with Kimberly Clark leaders as the state is considering all options to save a Conway manufacturing facility and its 350 jobs.
Earlier this month, Kimberly Clark surprised Arkansas and local officials when they revealed the Conway facility had a “50-50” shot of being closed. Kimberly Clark’s Conway plant has been located in central Arkansas for nearly 50 years and produces feminine hygiene products. It also operates a Maumelle plant that makes baby wipes. In January, when Kimberly Clark announced it would make 5,000 job cuts worldwide, the Conway location was told it was safe.
Wisconsin is home to a manufacturing plant that makes similar products to Conway’s. It was notified in January it could be closed and since then Wisconsin leaders have worked on an economic incentive package that includes a potential $101 million to $117 million in wage incentives, state payments for 15% of factory upgrades, and sales tax waivers on equipment upgrades. The Wisconsin plant employs 600 workers.
This week, Kimberly Clark made what is described as “headway” with its workers’ labor union in Wisconsin, and while details of any compromise were not revealed, it has revived the state pitch that was stalled in the legislature to save the plant.
Arkansas economic leaders are hoping the Natural State’s “right to work” status – which does not require workers to join unions–- will be a selling point for keeping Conway’s 350 workers on the payroll.
“The dynamics really come down to ‘hey, we’re a right to work state. We’re a non-unionized facility,'” Arkansas Economic Development Commission Executive Director Mike Preston tells Talk Business & Politics.
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