ST. GEORGE — Nearly 200 St. George employees will need to find a new place to work when the Viracon glass plant permanently closes its doors in March.
Viracon’s parent company, Apogee Enterprises Inc., announced the upcoming closure of the plant, which is located in the Fort Pierce Industrial Park.
“It is now apparent that we no longer require the capacity from our smallest domestic architectural glass plant in St. George and we will be closing that facility in March,” said Joseph Puishys, Apogee chief executive officer, in a news release Friday.
Puishys said Viracon will be able to produce more glass without the St. George plant because of a move to automation.
“This decision is not a reflection on the performance of the Viracon-St. George facility and its employees,” Viracon President Kelly Schuller said in the release. “Our human resources team will be working closely with our employees to help them find new opportunities.”
St. George Mayor Jon Pike said it will be sad to see Viracon leave Southern Utah because of the number of people employed at the plant.
“It’s going to be difficult for the approximately 198 families who have someone employed at Viracon,” Pike said. “The hope that I have is that we’ll have other opportunities within our growing economy for these workers.”
Department of Workforce Services staff will visit with Viracon employees at the facility to give them information on how to find new jobs and how to apply for unemployment insurance if they need it, Bethany Hyatt, the department’s public information officer, said.
“We will work closely with Viracon management to provide other services – potentially a job fair – to help ensure that they get the support they need to find employment for all their employees,” she said.
Viracon originally came to St. George in 2007, but closed temporarily in 2013 due to low market demand, before reopening the following year. St. George City Council approved local tax incentives for Viracon for employing enough people at a high enough wage since 2014.
The incentives, which allowed Viracon to receive 80 percent of the tax revenue it generated, will be cut short, Pike said. But because they were “post-performance incentives,” Viracon won’t have to pay anything back to the city, he added.
The city is currently offering similar tax incentives to bring a couple of companies to St. George, Pike said. He declined to identify the companies due to confidentiality agreements.
Pike said he is hoping the other companies that are considering coming to St. George will be able to absorb some of the workers who are losing their jobs at the Viracon plant.
“We’re very close on one (tax incentive) agreement with a corporation,” Pike said. “Hopefully within the next month there will be a big announcement.”
St. George News reporter Joseph Witham contributed to this report.
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