Pillsbury plans to close 400-worker New Albany plant

 General Mills said Thursday it plans to close its Pillsbury refrigerated goods plant in New Albany by mid-2016, which could cost its roughly 400 workers their jobs.

The company said its decision to shutter the southern Indiana plant is subject to negotiation with union officials, but did not elaborate.

Mayor Jeff Gahan said the closure of the plant that makes crescent rolls, pizza dough and other refrigerated baked goods would be devastating to his Ohio River city.

"The Pillsbury plant has meant steady employment, good-paying jobs and solid careers in New Albany since 1959, and the loss is tragic," Gahan told the News and Tribune.

General Mills spokeswoman Bridget Christenson said Pillsbury has excess capacity and the decision to close the plant follows a June review of its North American supply chain network. She emphasized that the planned closure is a preliminary decision, but would not provide additional details on what the union negotiation would entail.

"We are obligated to meet with the union on this decision," said Christenson, who declined provide the average salaries for workers at the New Albany plant.

A message left Thursday seeking comment from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union was not immediately returned.

Gahan's office said the plant closure would be the fourth announced by General Mills over the past year attributed to excess capacity.

Uric Dufrene, professor of finance at Indiana University Southeast, called the potential plant closure a "major blow for the region."

"Perhaps there may be an opportunity for another company to buy the assets there and locate operations in New Albany," he said.

New Albany City Councilman Bob Caesar said that if the plant closes it "will be genuinely a huge loss."

"We hate to see good jobs like that lost. I'm very sad to see them close," he told The (Louisville) Courier-Journal.

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