Crossett Mayor Scott McCormick said he’s asked city department heads to freeze their spending in light of the announcement that 530 Georgia Pacific workers were losing their jobs at the Crossett mill.
“Even if it’s in the budget, I told them to not buy anything we don’t have to have and watch their spending,” McCormick Thursday.
McCormick said it’s important for the town to stay positive, but he also wants to take the proper precautions and be very frugal during this time.
Though McCormick said the city didn’t have to lay off any employees after the GP Plywood Mill laid off approximately 750 workers in 2012, the city was hit pretty hard.
That hit was tough, McCormick said, considering the city was still feeling the effects of the national recession.
“For whatever reason Crossett wasn’t affected by the 2008 crisis until 2010; it didn’t really hit us until then and we hadn’t recovered by 2012,” McCormick said.
McCormick said it’s difficult to tell how much of the financial struggle in 2012 was caused by the GP Plywood mill closing and how much was simply just because the nation’s economy was struggling as well.
The GP Plywood closure affected 750 workers from Crossett and the surrounding areas. McCormick said a number of the plywood employees were from places like Bastrop, which lost its International Paper Company In 2007.
According to McCormick, even though a number of the plywood employees were able to transfer into other parts of the Crossett mill, the city was still hurting.
“We had four or five small businesses close pretty quick and during that time we went from three car dealer ships to one,” he said. “Our tax base was hurt, but we lived through it.”
McCormick said this time, the city is in a much better place financially which will maybe soften some of the impact of last week’s announcement.
“We were just gettting back to where we could breathe and we were able to give our employees raises,” McCormick said. “It’s not near as tight as it was in 2012.”
The 2020 census is a concern for the mayor, he said, and even before the GP announcement he expected the numbers to be lower than the 2010 census, which was approximately 5,034.
McCormick said the city had been frugal waiting to see what the 2020 census would bring and now there is even more cause for concern.
“At that last census, a lot of people had moved out of the city and into the county and that really hurt us,” he said.
McCormick said that though there are a lot of uncertainties, he believes if everyone will remain positive, Crossett can pull through this just as they did when the plywood mill closed.
“While this is a scary time, I believe Crossett will be OK because Crossett is kind of an amazing place, we may gripe and complain about the small stuff, but when the big stuff happens we all come together,” McCormick said.