A mainstay of the Barren County manufacturing base will be closing this year.

Chicago-based LSC Communications Inc., a multinational commercial printing company, announced Tuesday plans to close three of its plants, including one in Glasgow that was previously operated as RR Donnelley.

Once the largest employer in Glasgow when it was Donnelley, LSC was still the second-largest manufacturer in Barren County with close to 600 employees, according to Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development statistics.

The printer of magazines and other publications operated out of a plant on Donnelley Drive that was nearly 1 million square feet and at one time had well over 1,000 employees. Its closing leaves a void in the Glasgow economy, says Glasgow-Barren County Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Ernie Myers.

“Donnelley for years was the flagship manufacturer in Glasgow,” Myers said. “They’ve been a good and faithful employer for many years, beginning around 1968. It’s very sad news.”

The plant isn’t closing immediately, according to a news release from LSC, so Barren County Economic Authority Executive Director Maureen Carpenter said Glasgow and Barren County officials have time to come up with plans to help the displaced workers.

“Our first concerns are taking care of the individuals affected and getting that facility back up and running (with another employer),” Carpenter said. “They plan to stay operational until at least May.

“We’ll be meeting with our workforce partners on Thursday and see what other companies in Barren County might be able to absorb some of the workers. We want to keep as many of them as we can in the local economy.”

LSC Communications leadership indicated in a news release that there might be opportunities for some of the workers to land jobs at other LSC facilities.

“It is always difficult to make business decisions that impact our employees and the communities in which we operate,” LSC Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Quinlan III said, “and we are committed to supporting employees impacted by these closings with severance packages and transition assistance as well as potential relocation opportunities.”

The closings, which also include LSC plants in Strasburg, Va., and Mattoon, Ill., were brought about by changes in the printing industry, according to another statement by Quinlan. The company still has some 22,000 employees worldwide, according to the LSC website.

“The actions we announced today represent another step in our proactive efforts to address the significant structural changes in the industry,” he said. “With many print titles moving to a fully digital platform, decreasing their frequencies or closing entirely, our strategy is to further align our platform with these industry trends.”

Carpenter expects the layoffs to come gradually until a complete shutdown in the spring or summer. Both she and Myers are hopeful that the current workforce climate in southcentral Kentucky will allow many workers to find other employment.

Open jobs reports produced by the JobsEQ labor market data company routinely show that the 10-county region has 6,000 or more open positions.

“I’ve heard for a couple of years about a workforce shortage in the local economy,” Myers said. “We’ll see if these workers can be absorbed.”

Carpenter said she will be meeting with Barren County Judge-Executive Micheal Hale, Glasgow Mayor Harold Armstrong and other community leaders to come up with plans to help those affected by the closing.

Despite the bad news, Carpenter expressed some optimism about soon having a vacant industrial building to show to potential new employers.

“It’s an opportunity,” she said.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

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