Thursday, June 15, 2023

North Carolina Receives Federal Employment and Training Grant to Respond to Haywood County Paper Mill Layoffs $7.5 million grant will help dislocated workers train for new jobs

North Carolina has received approval for a $7.5 million federal workforce grant to help workers who were affected by the Pactiv Evergreen layoffs in Canton and Waynesville, Governor Roy Cooper has announced.
Jun 15, 2023

North Carolina has received approval for a $7.5 million federal workforce grant to help workers who were affected by the Pactiv Evergreen layoffs in Canton and Waynesville, Governor Roy Cooper has announced. $2.5 million will be made available immediately, and the remainder will be distributed as needed to support workforce development efforts in the weeks and months to come.

“This grant will provide new resources for our continuing effort to support people in the region around Canton who are dealing with the devastating impact of the paper mill’s closure,” Governor Cooper said. “Working with local partners on the ground, we will keep bringing services to the affected workers to help them find new job opportunities and pivot to new careers with workforce training.”

On March 6, Pactiv Evergreen announced plans to shut down the paper mill in Canton and substantially reduce operations at its facility in nearby Waynesville. These actions have resulted in almost 1,100 employees losing their jobs. Most of the layoffs occurred on June 9. The Canton mill has been in operation for more than a century and was the largest employer in Haywood County. Its closure is expected to economically impact other companies that serve the paper mill, such as trucking companies, rail lines and the forestry industry, as well as the grocery stores, restaurants, healthcare providers, and other small businesses that have served Evergreen employees.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Division of Workforce Solutions (DWS) requested the new funds, which were awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor as an Employment Recovery Dislocated Worker Grant.

“Our Workforce Solutions team and our local NCWorks partners have made it a priority to respond to these layoffs in a coordinated, compassionate way,” said N.C. Department of Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “With this new grant from our federal partners and other available resources, we will continue helping talented workers to gain new skills and connect with employers who are hiring.”

Through the grant, eligible dislocated workers may receive:

  • Career Services, to help them make employment plans and informed decisions about jobs and education, based on local and regional economic conditions;
  • Training Services, including On-the-Job Training (OJT) or other work-based learning opportunities with area employers, entrepreneurship training, and occupational skills training at community colleges or other providers, to prepare for in-demand careers; and
  • Supportive Services, which can address barriers that may prevent individuals from participating in employment and training.  

To administer this grant, DWS will partner with Southwestern Workforce Development Board (which serves Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties) and Mountain Area Workforce Development Board (which serves Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties). The grant is intended to serve approximately 885 people living in the region.

Through the Rapid Response program, DWS, local workforce boards, Haywood Community College and other partners have collaborated to support the impacted workers and the community since March. They and others have held several job fairs and hiring events in the region, which will continue. NCWorks Career Centers (primarily the center in Haywood County) are already providing employment services to affected Evergreen employees, including career counseling, job search help (including resume assistance), tuition assistance for training, and veterans services.

“I appreciate Governor Cooper and everyone involved from DC to Raleigh in helping bring this grant to our community,” said Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers. “This grant will give these workers the resources they need to chart their own path and their future. These people and their families deserve respect, and every opportunity to pursue their dreams after this nightmare closing of Pactiv Evergreen, which has damaged not only our economy but our soul.”

Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, National Dislocated Worker Grants temporarily expand the service capacity of dislocated worker training and employment programs at the state and local levels by providing funding assistance in response to large, unexpected economic events that cause significant job losses. DWS and local workforce development boards have administered federal grants of this type in the past, including grants that came in the wake of devastating hurricanes and another to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

People who are interested in receiving workforce services funded by the grant should contact their local NCWorks Career Center, which can be found at

Governor Cooper has also launched a page on his website to share information for people in western North Carolina who are looking for jobs, news about the closure, mental health resources and more.




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