Hope of paper mill job attracts hundreds to ESC

More than 300 people waited in line at the N.C. Employment Security Commission in Waynesville on Monday to submit job applications with Evergreen Packaging, the paper mill in Canton.

Evergreen employs 1,200 workers in Haywood County. The company is not adding new jobs at this time but is merely building up its applicant pool.

“This is actually a routine practice we do once or twice every year to make sure we have a pool of qualified applicants as jobs become available, primarily because of retirements,” said Mike Cohen, spokesperson for Evergreen.

Mark Clasby, Haywood County Economic Development Director, said Evergreen has an older workforce that is retiring.

“So there is a continued need for replacements,” Clasby said.

Evergreen’s last call for applications was in January 2009.

The line seemed longer than usual this time, according to Virginia Gribble, the director of the Employment Security Commission. ESC accepts and processes the applications. Gribble cited the high unemployment in Haywood County, which was 8.5 percent in September.

The long line is likely a sign of the economic times, said Gribble, but it was also a testimony to the quality of employment offered by the paper mill.

“It has been a very good response from the community,” Gribble said. “A lot of people are interested in working there because they are such a good employer.”

Clasby agreed.

“They have been a mainstay here in our community for 100 years and have provided really good jobs over that period of time,” said Clasby.

Entry-level jobs were advertised at $37,500 per year plus health insurance and other benefits.

Many who applied cited a long lineage of family members who have worked at the paper mill.

The Canton factory makes paperboard used in milk and juice cartons and envelope-grade paper. Evergreen also operates a smaller plant in Waynesville where coating is applied to the cardboard.

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