Evergreen Regional Economic Impact Report

Strong Partnerships and Sustained Efforts Help Region in Times of Uncertainty

 The news that Pactiv Evergreen Packaging would close its Canton facility after 115 years sent shockwaves throughout western North Carolina. Concerns quickly spread beyond Haywood County, and within 48 hours we were hearing that companies as far away as Cherokee County would be closing their doors in the wake of the announcement. As the regional Council of Governments for the seven far-western counties, the Southwestern Commission recognized the need to understand the regional impact of the closure. Through funding from Dogwood Health Trust, we engaged Syneva Economics to gain a clearer picture of what to expect moving forward. 

Before sharing the highlights of the report, it is important to note that these numbers are only a prediction based on a model. The report examined employment, income, output, and taxes to assess the potential consequences.  

According to the findings, for every one of the 900 jobs lost at the mill, another 1.2 jobs would be lost or at risk, resulting in a total of 2,020 jobs across the region. Predictably, Haywood County will bear the brunt, with 93% of total jobs lost or at risk, followed by Jackson County with 75 job losses. But the effects span the region, including losses of 25 in Cherokee County, 17 in Swain County, 16 in Macon County, and 2 each in Clay and Graham Counties.

The report further revealed that out of the additional 1,120 jobs at risk, 712 were from local suppliers who directly served the mill. Additionally, reduced spending by households connected to these layoffs would affect another 408 local jobs. 

Manufacturing is the most heavily impacted, with 38 jobs at risk, while administrative/support services and forestry are the second most, with 14 positions each. 

 The mill’s closure will result in a direct income loss of $87.2 million and put another $53.8 million at risk, jeopardizing a total of $141 million in income loss. The impact on tax revenue will also be substantial, with regional county tax revenues estimated to decrease by $5.8 million, state taxes by $11 million, and federal taxes by $32.7 million.  

In the wake of the closure, the Southwestern Commission and our partners are using this information to plan the most effective and efficient use of the available limited resources. Southwestern Workforce Development Board Staff provided rapid response services to affected workers and conducted 14 sessions at the mill that offered valuable information on job resources, training opportunities, mortgage assistance, and health insurance options. Additionally, job fairs have been held to provide workers with new employment prospects. These responses have happened quickly because of the strong collaboration between the Southwestern Commission and our regional partners, including Haywood County Government, NCWorks, NC Division of Workforce Solutions, Haywood Community College, Mountain Projects, Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency, Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, and NC Division of Employment Security.

We acknowledge that dealing with the repercussions of this closure requires a long-term and sustained effort. We can’t fix it all in one day, or even one year. It is imperative that we continue to serve our neighbors by fostering even stronger collaborations and support mechanisms. Haywood County – and the entire region – must unite to navigate this crisis to emerge stronger on the other side. By leveraging the collective resources available and working hand-in-hand, we can overcome the challenges posed by the closure of Pactiv Evergreen Packaging.

Together, we can build a brighter future for all. 

Access the Evergreen Economic Impact Report.