Sonoco paper mill closing in Hutchinson

While the reason for the closure is unknown, the closure will leave 116 people without a job.
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 6:17 PM CST
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HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KWCH) - In Hutchinson, Sonoco announced on Monday that it’s closing its paper mill, a staple in the city since 1909. With the mill go 116 jobs in the city. The reasoning for the shutdown hasn’t been disclosed, but it’s another economic blow to an area already impacted by recent layoffs.

“Sonoco has been a long-time employer in the Hutchinson community for over a century, so these jobs were engrained in the DNA of our community,” said Hutchinson Chamber CEO Debra Teufel. “One of the things that we immediately went to work doing was making sure that we had a way to reach out to the job seekers.”

Teufel said the chamber immediately reached out to Sonoco human resources to see if they could help. As of Tuesday evening, the chamber hasn’t heard back. Teufel said they can’t speculate as to why the plant closed.

Last month, Hutchinson Regional Medical Center announced 85 layoffs. Last year, the Siemens plant shut down. Despite these setbacks with the layoffs and Sonoco shutdown, Teufel said the chamber’s goal remains the same.

“Job number one absolutely is to make sure these folks get reemployed within Hutchinson and Reno County, which would be our first hope,” she said. “We are a regional economy. Many people who live in Reno County commute to Wichita and conversely, we have people that commute here for jobs every day.”

Teufel said a job fair next month could serve as a valuable resource and a starting point for some workers to get back on their feet. The Career Connections Job Fair is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 6 at the Hutchinson Sports Arena. Those with questions about the event can email the Hutchinson Community College CareerZone team at Jobseekers can also find employment opportunities on the Greater Hutch job portal.

12 News spoke with some former employees of Sonoco. They said they’re waiting to publicly comment until after a union meeting to discuss severance packages.