Future Jacksonville Plant Closing Costs 200 Jobs

200 employees in Jacksonville will soon be looking for work.

Officials from, Lastra, a manufacturing company in Jacksonville, announced Wednesday they will be shut down by June of 2005. The company makes printing plates for newspapers, magazines, books, and brochures all over the world.

The closing will affect not only the company 200 employees, but the economic status of the entire area. The printing company has been operating in Jacksonville since 1977. Wednesday, employees were told, the Jacksonville branch of Lastra would be shut down, and a New Jersey plant would be taking over production for their customers. Lastra officials say that decision was made because the New Jersey facility could increase their production without increasing costs.

City officials say the Jacksonville economy will definitely take a hit from the job loss. Now they're working with State Senator, Todd Staples, to try and keep the plant open. Even so, the future of Lastra in Jacksonville, looks to be short lived.

"It's certainly a somber event. No one is pleased with the current outcome, but we have a very good workforce, and excellent group of people, and everyone is looking to what we can do to build a new future for everyone," says Paul Schunk, General Manager of Lastra.

Lastra will start laying off employees gradually; beginning in January. The company provided printing plates, to customers from the Tyler Morning News, to The New York Times, and Chicago Tribune.

Lastra says they are working with the city and the East Texas Workforce Center to place all of their employees in other jobs. They will also be holding job fairs.anyone looking for employees should contact Dan Winfrey in Human Resources at 903-589-9500.

Reporting: Braid Sharp bsharp@kltv.com